A nation of islands off Asia’s Pacific coast, Japan includes the four “Home islands” of Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, which most travelers are familiar with, as well as nearly 7,000 more, mostly volcanic islands, that stretch over 3,000 km NE to SW. Comparatively, the area occupied by Japan is slightly smaller than the US state of California, and nearly the entire landmass is made up of the four primary islands. But, with towering mountains and almost 30,000 km of coastline, Japan is certain to harbor hundreds, if not thousands, of hidden gems that most travelers have never dreamt of. Today we’re going to discover a few of them. 

Japanese Style Staff Party (Mark Holguin)


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Hokkaido Abashiri Ice Flows Kayaking (Mark Holguin)

Guest Intro : Mark Holguin is an experienced Senior Executive in the tourism, hospitality, and wine & spirits industries, having managed multiple offices and properties throughout Asia, including Japan, Hong Kong, China, and Singapore. Nowadays, Mark serves as the President of EXO Travel Japan, a destination management company offering tours to international visitors from around the world, that Scott and I know well, having been colleagues of Mark’s in Thailand and Cambodia, respectively. We welcome Mark today from Yokohama, Japan.

Shikoku Kochi Traditional Dinner(Mark Holguin)


  • Where are you originally from and what first brought you to Asia?

Malk Holguin shares his insights on Japan with Talk Travel Asia podcast co-hosts Scott & Trevor.

  • When did you first travel to Japan and what were your early impressions?
  • When did you decide that you’d like to live in Japan long-term? 
  • Were you always a traveler while working in Asia?
  • How did you end up in the travel world?
Shikoku Kochi Knife Making (Mark Holguin)
  • Tell us a bit about your work nowadays?
  • Why don’t we start out with a general overview, from a tourist perspective, what are the main attractions, which, if any, should be included in any Japan visit, which people likely know about?
  • Today you’re going to take us from top to bottom, sharing some secret spots along the way. How did you come up with your Lesser Known spots to share?
  • Okay, so now that we have that out of the way, let’s get into Lesser Known Japan, learning about some spots that should be on a seasoned traveler’s radar:
  • Take it from the top, working our way from NE to SW:

Listen to episode #144 – Lesser-Known Japan with Mark Holguin to hear Mark’s recommendation for exploring Japan. 

Check out a Google Map of Mark’s Japan


Shikoku Tokushima Iya Valley (courtesy of Mark Holguin)

Learn more about Scott and Trevor:

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