This isOur Story

Our Story.

Dates back to the 2016 Rio Olympics…



Several paradigm shifting, profound and serendipitous moments at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio inspired our Founder to dig deeper to understand cultural differences between the US and Japan, the Olympic Movement, and how people travel between the East and West.

Six months later, Lauren moved across the United States to begin conversations with Team USA as they travel, engage and interact with Japan. She saw an opportunity to help the team integrate, be more aware, sensitive and respectful leading up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Along the way she met many Americans interested in traveling to Japan, but had no idea where to start.

Now, with a growing team, portfolio of clients, trips back to Japan, and hyperlocal connections, ZI is changing the way athletes, businesses, artists, and travelers think, approach and engage not only with Japan, but with themselves and the world.


To inspire all individuals to enhance their own cross-cultural awareness and global travels by changing the way they explore, engage, and immerse in the rich depths of not only Japan, but the world.


Lauren Zelek · Founder & CEO

Tanner Smith · Executive Assistant

Dane Niemczura · Marketing Intern

Koko Awaya · Tokyo Guide

Lauren Power · Tokyo Guide

Nicholas Jackson · Tokyo Guide


Hiroshima Shrine

Traveling is a very unique and personal experience. When you visit a new place you want to feel the vibes of the city. You want to find all of the small and hidden gems. You want to meet the local people and hear amazing stories. The best restaurants, bars, views, and experiences. Take my word for it... finding all of those things by yourself is impossible. That is why we use Lauren anytime we travel and look forward to working with her on our first trip to Japan. If you want to spend time with an amazing person and really understand and love a city, call Lauren.

Adrian Larrea

CEO & Co-Founder, Tribucha

November 2017

Embarkon a journey with us

Dear ZI