Top Slovenia interview: Taiji Tokuhisa

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Taiji Tokuhisa is a well-known Slovenian TV host, model, and owner of The Kay Escape Room in Ljubljana.

TAIJI TOKUHISA, WE WATCHED YOU ON MANY TV SHOWS, WALKING DOWN THE RUNWAY AND MORE. WHAT ARE YOUR CURRENTLY WORKING ON?

For a few years now I’m in an Escape room business. I own two of them, The Key Escape Room in Ljubljana and The Game Escape Room in Bled. Besides, I still do commercials and I host events. But mostly I’m occupied with running my Escape Rooms and I enjoy it very much.

A FEW YEARS BACK YOU OPENED YOUR OWN ESCAPE ROOM CALLED “THE KEY”? WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO DO THAT?

Yes, I opened The Key Escape Room in Ljubljana’s city Centre, next to the famous Preseren’s monument and Triple Bridge, back in 2014. A few month’s prior to opening I visited an Escape Room and immediately started thinking about an incredible business opportunity. I always loved puzzles and imagination, so it was just a perfect combination and I grabbed it with both hands. Last year I decided to buy The Game Escape Room in Bled from my friend as she got her dream job and offered it to me, the Escape Room enthusiast.

HOW DID THE EPIDEMIC AFFECT YOUR BUSINESS?

Unfortunately, I got affected quite badly. The majority of escape room visitors in Bled were foreigner tourists in past years, so you can imagine the downfall this year with almost no tourist in Bled. But we managed to encourage the locals and domestic visitors to give it a try and ended with a decent summer season. Much different from last year, but still. While pandemic hit our escape room in Ljubljana pretty bad, especially because we lost our usual summer peak. During the summer we usually have most of the visitors from abroad and unfortunately, that drastically changed this year. I had to adapt as well and change the marketing strategy to draw the visitors. Above all, we added extra 30 minutes between bookings in order to thoroughly sanitize everything, ventilate every room and get ready for the next group. Masks are of course obligatory and we have sanitizers in every room. We’re very happy when visitors give us amazing feedbacks about the escape room experience at our locations and we’re focusing on positive direction, hoping that pandemic ends and life brings easier traveling,…

HOW DO YOU LIKE TO SPEND YOUR FREE TIME? DO YOU STILL TRAIN KARATE? WHAT OTHER SPORT DO YOU ENJOY IN YOUR FREE TIME?

Well, I love to travel as much as I can. My wife and I share this passion and try to explore as many places as we can, learn about other cultures, embrace the natural beauties and historical places of each destination. This year of course we couldn’t travel abroad. But we were fortunate enough to spend our summer vacation in Croatia. I still practice karate, an amazing martial art under the supervision of the only karate master in Slovenia, Sensei Takashi Tokuhisa, who happens to be my father. Karate has been my passion for almost 20 years and the result is black belt, 3rd dan. I also love spearfishing, a hobby I’ve been enjoying for more than 25 years and also some other sports as well.     

WHAT FIVE WORDS BEST DESCRIBE SLOVENIA?

Wonderful, safe, green, clean & affordable.

WHAT ARE YOUR  MUST-VISIT DESTINATIONS IN SLOVENIA?

Even though Slovenia is a rather small country, it has a lot to offer. Of course, there are our most famous and popular attractions that attract crowds, but I would also suggest finding hidden gems. I would recommend exploring all of our four main regions that offer amazing nature with beautiful mountains, valleys, rivers and lakes. The Karst region and Slovene Istria villages will surprise you with their authenticity, Prekmurje stands out with hospitality, you’ll receive friendliness in Dolenjska and so on. Take your time, explore and you’ll be amazed. 

HOW ABOUT ABROAD? WHERE DO YOU LOVE TRAVELING TO?

I love to travel and so far, I’ve been blessed to have been to many amazing places around the world. I try to avoid crowds and arranged trips (if possible), so I usually just buy the plane tickets for us, do the research of the destination and make our own itinerary. I try to get in touch with locals to get interesting information, to hear their views and understand their culture. You get to see and experience the country from a much different perspective. Those trips enrich you with very special knowledge, a knowledge that no school can give you. So far I was the most impressed with natural beauty and friendliness of South American countries.   

IF A VISITOR ONLY HAD ONE MEAL ON THEIR TRIP TO  SLOVENIA, WHAT AND WHERE SHOULD IT BE?

Since I have a sweet tooth, I would recommend our traditional delicious and warm gibanica cake, if I would need to describe it, I would say it’s mixture of potica and layered strudel pie. You can’t miss if you order one in Lolita pastry shop in Ljubljana.

DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVOURITE SLOVENIAN WINES?

We have a cottage house in Branik in Vipava valley and our neighbor is spoiling us with his many times awarded Zgonik wines. He makes different sorts, but I’d recommend the Cabernet Sauvignon.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE SLOVENIAN SOUVENIRS TO GIVE AS GIFTS?

We just met with our Canadian friends and we wanted to give them something unique and traditional. We were looking for our famous potica and after a long search we came across a lovely ‘’le Potica’’, a neatly packed and delicious gift they were amazed with.

WHAT‘S THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON LIFE HAS TAUGHT YOU?

Be a fighter and never give up.

WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL MOTTO OR  PHILOSOPHY ON LIFE?

CARPE DIEM, life is too short, enjoy it.

Learn more about Key escape room Ljubljana here.