Arigato Japan wants families to try its newly launched cooking classes and food tours.

By on April 19, 2016

From finding good food off the beaten track to teaching how to cook an authentic Japanese dish, this resourceful Tokyoite turned her love of Japan into a business.

Tokyo families catches up with Arigato Japan’s founder, Anne Kyle.


Where are you from and what brought you to Japan?

I am originally from the Philippines. After graduating from university, I was planning to  work in the airline industry but, a trip to Japan as a graduation gift from my mother, completely altered the course of my life.  I was 19 in a far off land where everything was so different and, I fell in love.  I learned how to write hiragana in just 2 months and nothing could stop me from trying to learn everything about this beautiful country. I studied Japanese intensively for a year which gave me a good foundation to build my understanding on.  I taught English for 8 years after that but deep inside me, I always felt I wanted to start my own business.

Taking that first step and saying “ Yes, I’m going to make this happen,” is a leap of faith and I am happy I had the courage to do it. Back then, technology was not as helpful in finding your way around let alone setting up a company but I found a way to overcome the language barrier and here I am today with two successful businesses in the country I love.  I opened my second one this year and it is called Arigato Japan.

What got you into the food business and why did you choose Japan-focused tours and cooking school? 

france2My passion is traveling and I have had the privilege to spend time in over 30 countries.  I love Europe especially and before I met my husband Matt, I used to plan trips with only one roller bag so I could easily explore the amazing food and locations around each city I visited.  After our wedding last year, I told Matt that I wanted to have “one last hurrah” before we have kids.  So I packed my bags and spent a month exploring the most unforgettable places of Europe like Santorini, the Amalfi Coast, Dubrovnik, Sweden, Bosnia, the French Riviera, etc.; but it was a culinary class in France that inspired me to start my cooking class and food tour business in Japan.
When you travel, you buy some souvenirs to remind you of a memorable place that you went to, but joining a cooking class gave me the skills to recreate some simple French food that I really loved! I felt like I took a small part of France with me when I left. When I came home, I decided I wanted to do the same thing for those coming to Japan.  I wanted to help people understand how to make their favorite Japanese dishes whether it be Teriyaki, Tonkatsu, Miso or Maki & Sushi and more!

I also wanted to give people the chance to see the food culture of Japan.  I drew on my many experiences regarding the difficulties of traveling. While it is great to explore unseen places on your own, it can be very taxing on one’s energy.  One ends up getting lost and not knowing what to do in a huge city you have never been to.  I took these experiences and organized food tours that will help people understand where to go and what to taste!  All the stops on my tours are not very foreigner friendly and most of the time, you are going to miss out on the delicious dishes they have to offer if you are not able to speak or read Japanese.

All of the personal reasons I love about running this, business aside, is the fact that the number of foreign visitors is increasing year on year (19.7 million visitors in 2015, up 47.1% from 2014 according to and with no stop in sight leading up to the summer Olympics.

2020 tourism is going to be booming in Japan for the foreseeable future and I want to be in a position to share my passion with as many people as possible.

What can we expect from a typical food tour and cooking sessions at Arigato Japan?

123Our cooking classes and food tours are targeted at foreigners living in or visiting Japan.  We try to make learning about how to cook and eat Japanese food as simple as possible while giving them the genuine article.

Our cooking classes are taught by Japanese women who speak great English because they spent time abroad.  They were chosen for their passion of cooking and their strong English ability to allow our guests to really get into the details during a class.  Our cooking classes touch on a number of well known Japanese foods (Washoku) : Maki & Sushi, Obento Lunch Box preparation, and canapes with sake pairing.  This gives guests a very well rounded offering of Japanese cuisine to choose from.

Our food tours target well-known areas of Tokyo but take guests to places that are not foreigner friendly.  There are over 200,000 eateries in Tokyo and so many of them do not cater to non-Japanese but that doesn’t mean they aren’t incredibly delicious.  We want to show people what they are missing when they only follow normal tourists avenues you get from tour books.


Annie (left) with Mrs. Son (right), mother of Softbank CEO Son Masayoshi.

What type of classes do you offer, who may join and how do people find you?
Anyone can join the cooking classes or food tours, even Japanese people.  We had the mother of Softbank CEO, Mrs Son, over with her friends for the Maki & Sushi class recently. Even though she and her friends are very familiar with Japanese cuisine, they were blown away by our Temari Maki and Mosaic Flower Sushi rolls.  Other groups included staff from the German Embassy who chose us for their cultural and team- building offsite; and we have had a lot of families recently who booked a private class to spend some time together.  The classes are easy to follow and something they can do at home.  Kids as young as 5 years old have joined and had a great time.  Our classes are fun and flexible catering to the older and younger generations.

What can you say is the best part of your job?

Meeting people from all over the world who have a great interest in the country and culture I love.  It is like traveling without leaving your home. Japan is my second home and to have the opportunity to share the beautiful  and abundant culture of this country to others is one of the most rewarding experiences for me.

Arigato Japan’s cooking classes are held in Azabu Juban.
To book a class or food tour, check out

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