St. Louis native Colin Croy, 31, is a music tech designer and business owner, operating CroyTone Audio in Japan's northernmost region. He opened his shop in Sapporo in January this year and has been serving the musical community in the Hokkaido capital with repairs, upgrades and customizations ever since.

1. What brought you to Hokkaido? My girlfriend was accepted to the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program and her placement was in Chitose. But, the more I discovered about Hokkaido and Sapporo, the more I realized that it was sort of Japan’s best-kept secret. Sapporo is a sizable city, but it isn’t as well-known as Tokyo or Osaka. It felt like there was an opportunity to do something here with music. It reminds me of St. Louis; a medium-sized city in America with a thriving — albeit lesser-known — music scene.

2. How much did you know about Hokkaido before you moved there? I had read about it. It mirrored the U.S. Midwest in many ways: A lot of agriculture and food production, friendly people, and a slower lifestyle compared to the rest of Japan. I was excited about going somewhere I thought I could live comfortably.