Personal Biography

Greg Koch-Founder and CEO of Hands On Kyoto LLC

Background in brief

My name is Greg Koch. I was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I’m a registered Tour Guide (Kyoto Visitors Host from 2016) and Cultural Coordinator in Kyoto city. In 2002, I graduated from the University of Alberta with an Arts Degree-major in History. Upon graduation, I came to Japan on the JET (Japanese Exchange Program). First, I lived and taught in Nara for 3 years, then I moved to Kyoto where I presently live today.

Life in Japan

Teaching Experience (JET)

I’ve lived, worked and studied in Japan since 2002. First started out on the Japanese Exchange Program (JET). As fortune would have it, I was sent to Nara, Japan’s first official capital. I spent three years in Nara as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) at Katagiri High School. With a desire to formally learn Japanese, I then moved to Kyoto.

Japanese Language & Cultural Studies

In Kyoto, I studied at Ritsumeikan University in the Study in Kyoto Program (SKP). The program helped me learn the basics of Japanese language and other general aspects of Kyoto’s culture. After this one-year program, I still wanted to learn more Japanese, so I enrolled into the Kyoto Japanese Language School (KJLS).

Hyatt Hotel Experience

Having gone through the intense one-year program at KJLS, I felt it was time to look for a job in Japan. I really wanted to stay in Kyoto and was fortunate enough to find a job at the Hyatt Regency Kyoto Hotel. Contrary to most hotels in Japan, more than half of the Hyatt Kyoto’s guests were non-Japanese. This unique international dynamic allowed me to interact with guests from across the globe. Together with other highly capable staff, we provided a personalized and high level of service recognized by Michelin Guide 2010 as being one of the premiere hotels in Japan. At this time, I was also asked to contribute to the Time Out Shortlist Kyoto guide by editor Nicholas Coldicott.

During my time at the Hyatt, I worked as a front receptionist, bell-desk captain, and concierge. Through this experience I acquired a firm understanding of tourist related knowledge and learned how to understand the various needs of both Japanese and non-Japanese guests. Also, I managed to win the Hystar, a designation that recognizes an employee’s outstanding level of service based on comments from guests and managers. I finished working at the Hyatt in 2010.

Hands On Kyoto LLC

Combining a multitude of skills and experiences, I opened up my own company, Hands On Kyoto LLC in 2012. I’m a registered Tour Guide in Kyoto city (Kyoto Visitors Host from 2016) and a Cultural Cooridinator, providing sightseeing services and arranging Hands On experiences for visitors. Whenever possible, I try to bring local Kyoto businesses and people together with visitors from overseas.

person background greg koch


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