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For tourists, the tour guides often become inspirational figures, who left Japan to pursue their individual dreams. The unexpected centrality of guides to these stories is in tension with the tourist industry’s rhetoric of direct encounters with nature. Despite—or because of —the stereotypical association of outdoor activity and masculine culture, female guides played a particularly enchanting role. Male guides conformed to tourists’ expectations, but female guides’ charisma originated with the surprise they caused. Some possessed the aura of a liminal figure: ambiguous in gender and age, they could present themselves as people who could mediate between the tourists’ everyday lives...

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