Ryota Iwasaki: A Day in the Life

As Japan gears up for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, travel -- especially inbound travel -- is on many a company’s radar. The situation is no different here at Odigo, where we help people travelling to Japan, by debunking myths, providing them with trip inspiration and helping them create their own customized itineraries.  Helping us in this goal -- Mr. Ryota Iwasaki! 
As we’ve mentioned before, Odigo’s mission is to help visitors explore more of Japan outside of the Tokyo → Kyoto golden route, to discover the country’s lesser known attractions and, among other destinations, Japan's fascinating rural communities.
At Okinawa's Sapposhi Parade & Sappou, Coronation Ceremony -- Photo Courtesy of Ryota Iwasaki
This love of rural Japan is a passion of Ryota Iwasaki, Odigo’s Business Development Manager.  When we asked why he came to work with Odigo, Ryota said Odigo’s support of rural or “local” Japan appealed to him. 
“I’m very interested in businesses that support local communities. Japan has so many unique places to discover, but most of them are unknown. I’d like to help promote these places and introduce them to foreign people."
Through his work with Odigo, Ryota does just that. We decided to follow Ryota one day to see what his job entails. What is his daily routine? What does he eat for lunch? How does he balance working with a start-up & dealing with the Japanese government? Is his life absorbed by meetings? Who does Ryota look to for inspiration? What keeps him going? Read on…

A day in the life of Ryota Iwasaki

7:00 Wake up

7:30 Breakfast
Usually a protein drink or curry rice. I’m (fitness) training so I need a lot of protein. I really like beer, especially the brand Malt's, so have to be careful I don’t gain too much weight!

8:00 Studying
Is this Blue Ocean Strategy? -- Photo Courtesy of Ryota Iwasaki
I usually read books about business models or marketing to better do my job. I found the book on blue ocean strategy [about uncontested market space] to be very interesting and enjoyed it a lot.

9:30 Begin work 

9:45 Attacking my email!

10:00 Proposal development for the government
Ryota is Passionate About Rural Japan -- Yahiko Village Photo Courtesy of Nathan Hosken
Odigo is doing B2G (business-to-government work). One of our clients is Yahiko Village in rural Niigata Prefecture. I believe rural Japan has much to offer but depopulation is a huge problem for areas like Yahiko. When I was in my fourth year of university, I did some research about a small village in Wakayama Prefecture. Only 450 people lived there. The community elders had so much strength but of course, the younger people were leaving because they wanted to live somewhere cool, or because of economic reasons. If we don’t help these rural areas they will disappear. Part of Odigo’s work is to help visitors to Japan travel all over. Personally, I love the lifestyle in rural Japan. The people there are so inspiring. They do many things by themselves like growing their own food, building their own houses…
12:00 Lunch
Odigo's office is in a co-working and residence building, Ryozan Park. I live in the same building so I often make my lunch  in the house kitchen. I usually eat fried rice or curry. I love curry rice! Easy, speedy, and tasty! I usually eat retort curry. My favourite curry restaurant is Konaya which is local to me. Their specialty is curry udon.
13:00 Internal meetings
This means I could be meeting with marketing, content or development to better understand how Odigo can help clients and local governments. When I was in 11th grade, or the second grade of high-school here in Japan, I went to Maryland in the United States as an exchange student for one year. I enjoy working in a company with people from all over the world.

14:00 Making proposals and client presentations
Ryota Iwasaki, Hard at Work -- Photo by Jane K
I used to be the editorial manager of a magazine for Chinese travelers in Okinawa. We had two challenges. One was to make Chinese travelers feel safe and comfortable during their trip. The other was to make Okinawan people feel at ease with their Chinese customers. Okinawa is one of Japan’s most popular travel destinations, but most Okinawans were unsure or nervous about making sure foreigners were kept happy and had a positive trip. [At the magazine] we always researched and shared information on what travelers liked. This was a win-win situation for everyone. I use this experience now when I am making proposals for clients in Japan. 

18:30 Finish work unless I have overtime 
I work late if necessary so my weekends are kept free! 

19:00 Training/Relax/Dinner/Go drink…etc.
Ryota Clowning Around with his Work Colleagues -- Photo by Nathan Hosken
I like running and muscle training so I often go to the gym. My gym is also conveniently located in the Ryozan Park basement! Sometimes it seems as if I never leave the building, but I do love sightseeing so I travel as much as I can on the weekends. I most recently went to Mount Takao

23:00 Bed -- So I can be ready for my next day at Odigo!

We're glad Ryota is part of the ODIGO team. Take a look through his favourite spots across Japan.

Jane K