About Us

Our Story

Founded in 2017 by two chefs and former restaurateurs, our mission is to share the amazing food, culture and natural beauty of Japan. We have a passion for food and adventure, and decades of experience traveling to and living in the country. We love small businesses and believe you can’t really travel to Japan without experiencing it like a local. Traveling to any country can take hours of planning and preparation, traveling to Japan can be even more challenging, let us take care of the details while you enjoy the journey.

Culinary Inspired Adventures

We use the motto culinary inspired adventures to describe our travel experiences in Japan. Taking inspiration from nearly 20 years in the hospitality industry as chefs and and entrepreneurs, we strive to create exciting travel experiences that require all five senses - sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch. We focus on visiting farms and markets, taking classes and learning new skills, meeting new friends and eating good food. So, roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty (sort of speak), because we know this can be one of the most satisfying and unforgettable experiences of your life.

world food travel association

Travel With A Purpose

As travelers, we are committed to helping sustain local economies and preserving cultures. We are dedicated to the practice of “green travel” as much as we can by taking public transportations, visiting farmers and artists, supporting small businesses, as well as providing “farm to table” experiences. We believe responsible travel can be a force of good in this world by breaking down barriers and creating new connections between people. By becoming eco-travelers, we can help preserve local cultures, arts, crafts, environments and rural economies.

The TanpopoStudio Team

Koshiki Yonemura

Koshiki Smith | Founder
After graduating from University of Minnesota, my partner and I opened a Japanese restaurant in St. Paul, MN. I am bilingual in Japanese and English and bring more than 20 years of hospitality experience to the company. With my background as a chef and a Japanese restaurant owner, my heart is always to connect people between Japan and United States through food and culture.

Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith | Founder
I was born in Japan, but fate must of brought me back in 1998 when Koshiki and I took our first trip together to Tokyo, Kumamoto and Kagoshima. Later, after finishing a degree in international management, we would start the first Japanese restaurant in Minnesota focusing on udon, soba and Japanese home-cooking. We sold the business in 2017 to pursue our passion for Japan, food, travel and bringing people together.

Kai Yonemura

Kai Yonemura | Travel Coordinator
I studied bread making at Dunwoody College in Minneapolis. I am a craftsman, home-builder and an outdoor enthusiast who resides in Yamanashi prefecture with his family. I am fluent in Japanese and English, and I like to spend my free time remodeling my home and baking bread in my outdoor oven.