15 August 2015: You & I at Nishi-kanda Family Summer Festival in Tokyo (Japan)?

Invited by community leaders, I plan to enjoy the annual Nishi-kanda Family Summer Festival at Nishi-kanda park (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan) from 18:00 on Saturday 15 August 2015 🙂 Like last year, I should wear my kimono, join easy bon-odori dances and songs with adults and children, listen to dynamic traditional music (notably taiko drums), discuss with the locals while eating Japanese food…
Poster of Nishi-kanda Family Summer Festival (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 15 August 2015.

You are welcome to experience Japanese life and ancient traditions for free with us! Locals will gladly take a few minutes to teach you simple dances and songs 🙂 Just check your calendar and contact me in advance for help regarding kimono rental or translations between English/French and Japanese that evening.

New project: East of the Imperial Palace map in English for tourists in Tokyo (Japan)

Tomorrow, my team will start preparing its first “East of the Imperial Palace” walking map in English to support foreigners in Tokyo city and promote local gems using help from local communities, our expertise, and our human networks. Contact me before June 2015 if you wish to advertise or recommend an exceptional business near Ginza, Nihombashi, Shimbashi, Tsukiji, or Tokyo station 🙂

As Travel Stand Japan‘s inbound manager, I mainly search businesses that interest foreign tourists and residents, that provide high-quality products or services for adults and children, that are unique or characterize the area, and that make the local communities proud! I thus favour old local businesses with eco-friendly Japanese-style products by Japanese designers and handmade in Japan, Japanese companies with headquarters in the area, event organizers, stores with friendly bilingual staff accepting payments by credit card, and tax-free shops open 24 hours a day. If needed, our travel agency can design menus/labels (translations, explanations, pictures…) and train staff to better interact with tourists (language & culture). Of course, the team also happily guides tourists to the great places on our maps to help them buy or order what they dream of during Yes in Japan tours 🙂

Making this online and paper map should be fun and rewarding but exhausting like when I prepared the “North of the Imperial Palace” map of spring/summer 2015. I enjoyed cycling in small streets, discussing with hotel staff, informing and learning from various shopkeepers and owners in Japanese language, clarifying my values while honing my sales/negotiation skills… but that took much time and energy! Wish me exceptional holidays afterwards 😉

New business: I guided 3 Japanese during an English study tour in Ochanomizu area (Tokyo, Japan)

I just guided two Japanese ladies and a Japanese gentleman for 2 hours in Tokyo to improve their English while visiting Ochanomizu area. I appreciate my experience as an English teacher at an international preschool and as an English/Japanese interpreter for this new business by Travel Stand Japan 🙂

We had a great time discussing life in Asia, Western practices and ways of thinking… while shopping, walking among beautiful flowers, observing lucky charms for computers at Kanda Shrine, and discovering a cool exhibition of paper animals at the International Origami Centre! Next time, we may also enjoy a special restaurant/teashop or attend a tea ceremony 🙂

Interested in joining a Yes in Japan language study tour to discover Japan and discuss cultural/lifestyle differences with Japanese people or foreigners in English, French or Japanese language? Contact me 🙂

6th Tokyo Local Thinking seminar at Editory: Network to make a better Jimbocho (Tokyo, Japan)

Invited tonight at the 6th Tokyo Local Thinking free seminar by Editory‘s dynamic organizer KAWARADA Yasuhiko, I enjoyed live music, attended talks, joined a group exercise, and networked in Japanese language with local guests wishing to dynamize, enhance and promote the Jimbocho area of Chiyoda Ward in Tokyo. Sadly, I missed 20 minutes as the owner of a nearby restaurant requested an interpreter immediately to explain his menu to American customers.

Like last time, the seminar was refreshing 🙂 I chatted with acquaintances but also met the CEO and an executive officer of the excellent Good Morning Café, a cooking instructor who worked 5 years in California, staff from real estate agencies… OnJapan‘s UCHIYAMA Masayuki asked my views (as the sole foreigner in this packed room) about his Jimbocho Yomatsuri project: a festival in May with Japanese food stalls, traditional music and songs, dances in kimono… I notably suggested to end the event late to attract and entertain Japanese and foreign tourists after a full day of tourism elsewhere. Update: I e-mailed him additional suggestions on 07 March 2015.

I invited some participants to eat together near Travel Stand Japan on a Friday evening or week-end before the next seminar on 01 April to network and make a better world without worrying about our last subway/train or work the following day!

Half-day tour in Tokyo with a couple from Mexico: washi, lucky charms, fake food…

As Travel Stand Japan‘s inbound manager, I spent half of my day in Tokyo with a friendly Mexican couple interested in graphic design, disaster risk management, and Japanese life. This personalized tour on 11 September 2014 let me introduce diverse objects made in Japan and taught me about Mexico!

I had planned the tour to meet Japanese people, present everyday life objects and Japanese architecture, and end somewhere allowing fun tourism by oneself afterwards. The joyful director of the Origami-kaikan demonstrated his origami skills and an artist from the workshop told us about colouring traditional Japanese paper “washi”. We saw an origami exhibition, old photos, pilgrimage marks, lucky charms, votive plaques, high-school uniforms and trophies, cooking utensils, restaurant signboards, fake food for display, a vending machine selling umbrellas… We followed an ancient moat, walked in backstreets, crossed streets using an aerial maze, spotted old narrow apartments and large modern offices, entered small shops…

No problem arose during this private tour but the couple unexpectedly bought lots of washi to cover a wall of their house in Mexico so I must get information about appropriate glue 🙂 The shopping list also included a flattening tool for origami, lucky charms for good health, and a pair of chopsticks for kids (with rings to properly place the fingers).

We met at the travel agency, walked to the Origami-kaikan, Kanda-myojin and Akihabara station, shortly rode a train for Ueno station then walked again to Kappabashi “Kitchen Town” and Asakusa. I guided, informed, introduced the people we met, translated in English and Japanese, and requested origami demonstrations 🙂

The Mexican wife just e-mailed me; it feels so good to make a better world:

To: Duval Sébastien
Thanks for everything its a blessing I found you to show us japan
Warm regards

Our Mexican customers increasing, should I get ready to discuss about Japan in Spanish?

Japanese photomontage of a tour related to washi in 東京 (Tokyo) on 11 September 2014.

More at 11 September 2014: Tour at Origami-kaikan, Kanda-myojin & Kappabashi (Tokyo) on Inner Japan.

10-day tour in Japan with a family from Oman: Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto, Osaka!

As Travel Stand Japan‘s inbound manager, I just spent 10 exciting days with an Omani family (2 parents, 5 children, 2 maids) on holidays in Japan for the first time. This great experience on 19-28 August 2014 let me for the first time meet people from the Sultanate of Oman, spend more than a week with customers, and guide travellers in Kyoto and Osaka.

I had planned the stay to have fun, provide new experiences, discover Japanese nature, introduce traditional and modern Japan, and eat food suitable for Muslims. We explored 3 theme parks, went to a zoo, enjoyed a Cirque du Soleil show, got caricatures from Japanese artists, spent much time shopping, wrote prayers in kanji and katakana alphabet, rode a shinkansen (notable because Oman has no high-speed train), cruised on a river and lake, drove along the sea and in forests, saw Mount Fuji, ate among the clouds on a mountain, entered a bamboo grove, observed rice fields, walked in ancient streets… The bus drivers and my colleagues at the travel agency helped wonderfully!

No big problem arose during this private tour beyond an insect bite (fixed at a pharmacy), crowds at the theme parks (summer holidays!), and an American Express card unusable at Universal Studios Japan (fixed with cash). As my colleagues had requested, every hotel provided 3 rooms on the same floor, near each other, and the staff of Hotel Nikko Princess Kyoto prepared a delicious birthday cake for one of the daughters.

We met at Narita international airport when the family arrived in Japan, immediately went to Tokyo and spent every day together until the departure from Japan. I personalized the itinerary as I learnt more about everybody, informed, translated in English and Japanese, requested massages and a private room with open-air bath (Hakone is perfect for that), carried luggage, played with the children (my experience as a preschool teacher came in handy)… and learnt some Arabic from the elder son! The goodbye at Narita airport was poignant: the elder son held me tightly for a long time and the 1 y.o. daughter waved goodbye to her parents instead of saying goodbye to me 😉

I promised to visit the family in Oman; shall I go just after spending Christmas in France with my parents?

Japanese photomontage of a tour in 東京 (Tokyo), 箱根 (Hakone), 京都 (Kyoto), and 大阪 (Osaka) on 19-28 August 2014.

More at 19-28 August 2014: Tour in Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto, Osaka on Inner Japan.

Invited to Yukata De Guide Tour by Sumida ward’s tourism office (Tokyo, Japan)

Invited by ISHIKAWA Keiko from the tourism office of Sumida ward (Tokyo, Japan), I joined today a Yukata De Guide Tour in Sumida ward organized by the ward, its tourism office, and Sumidagawa Edo Cultural Sightseeing Promotion Association. To experience the Japanese culture, we wore traditional clothes and shoes, visited the Kokugikan sumo arena, watched a tea ceremony in the Former Yasuda Garden, cruised at night on the Sumida river, danced a Bon-odori during a festival, saw fireworks…

As a travel agent and interpreter, it was very interesting. I discussed in Japanese, English, French, and Spanish with Japanese and foreign students, reporters, embassy staff… and even met the mayor and goodwill ambassador of Sumida ward!

Japanese photomontage of Yukata De Guide Tour in 墨田区 (Sumida ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 02 August 2014.

More at 02 August 2014: Yukata De Guide Tour in Tokyo’s Sumida ward on Inner Japan.

Upgrading my Website Sébastien Duval

Greetings from Tokyo! I am upgrading my English Website Sébastien Duval and adding pages in French, Spanish, Korean, and Japanese. If you wonder about the 寿春・セバスチャン visible here and there: it is my name in Japanese… meaning “Felicitous Spring Sebastian”!

You do not know me yet? I promote good values, nature and happiness to make a better world, strive to become an exciting tour guide/interpreter/storyteller, and plan a 2-year tour of Japan!

Sébastien Duval

Do not hesitate to contact me 🙂