Anne Kyle, 46, is the founder and CEO of Arigato Travel, which specializes in gastronomy-themed tours and customized travel curation focusing on cultural experiences around Japan. Growing from a one-woman operation in 2016 to a team that now numbers more than 100, Arigato Travel has been recognized by CNN Travel as one of Japan’s “most authentic experience” companies.

1. What initially brought you to Japan? I am originally from Manila in the Philippines, and I first visited Japan when I was 12. It was love at first sight; I couldn’t get enough of things like the thick udon noodles, and seeing vending machines everywhere. I was so intrigued that I vowed I would return, and at age 19 that’s exactly what I did.

2. Did you begin leading food tours right away? No, I started out teaching English and then transitioned into selling beauty products to Filipinos living in Japan. I had always been entrepreneurial, even as a child, so launching a business was a natural progression for me. I also loved traveling and being exposed to new people, cultures and foods, so after I joined a market tour and cooking class while on a trip to France, I had the idea to merge all of these interests by starting my own cooking school for tourists in Azabu-Juban. These were the roots of Arigato Travel.