AISO certified tour guide… Guide touristique agréé AISO… AISO認定ツアーガイド…

[EN] AISO certificate. [FR] Certificat AISO. [JP] AISOの認定証。

[EN] The Asia Inbound Sightseeing Organization certified me as tour guide for all Japan (AISO certification number 38 for English & French)! Its training and validation process took more than a year: I attended model tours in Tokyo metropolis, acquired experience with groups of Japanese & foreign travellers in several prefectures of Japan, went through interviews in Japanese and English… Big thanks to my colleague Ms Oshima for her support and help all along!

[FR] L’organisation pour le tourisme entrant d’Asie “AISO” m’a agréé comme guide touristique pour tout le Japon (certification AISO numéro 38 pour le français et l’anglais) ! Sa procédure de formation et de validation a pris plus d’un an: j’ai assisté à des visites de démonstration à Tokyo, acquis de l’expérience avec des groupes de voyageurs japonais et étrangers dans plusieurs préfectures du Japon, ai été interviewé en japonais et en anglais… Merci beaucoup à ma collègue Mme Oshima qui m’a motivé et aidé du début à la fin !

[JP] 一般社団法人アジアインバウンド観光振興会の全日本ツアーガイド資格を取りました!(仏・英語のAISO認定ツアーガイド38)。研修・認定完了まで一年間以上かかった:東京都でモデルツアーに参加し、いくつもの県で日本人・外国人の旅行者団体との経験を重ね、日本語と英語で試験や面接も受けた…最初から最後まで応援して手伝ってくれた同僚の大島さんに感謝!

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.

I tested SGRS Tourism Agency‘s Sumida river cruise and Walk with Geisha in Asakusa area (Tokyo, Japan)!

Invited by SGRS Tourism Agency to test its tours for foreign tourists in Tokyo, I enjoyed this afternoon a fun Sweet & Sound Cruise on the Sumida river and a Walk with Geisha in Asakusa area then attended its business presentation and a funny show (see next post). As a tourism professional and former preschool teacher, I believe these tours will be great once refined, providing fond memories of Japan to Western adults and children alike! I now look forward to a walk with a Japanese warrior, ninja or samurai 😉

Odaiba island (Minato ward, Tokyo, Japan) from the Sweet & Sound Cruise boat on 18 April 2015.

Geisha Otoki-san in kimono with Sébastien Duval holding her fan at Asakusa Shrine (Taito ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 18 April 2015. Photo by Eri.

I had a great time all along: Ken (from Hawaii) and Miki (from Japan) sang in English and Japanese during the cruise while Oui played the piano and Nanako the violin, Harusa (from ???) guided us in the streets of Asakusa accompanied by the “geisha” Otoki-san… Bilingual and wearing a kimono, Harusa motivated us to look for statues on rooftops (e.g. the thief Nezumi-kozo) and portraits of Japanese movie stars (e.g. Takeshi Kitano), touch a giant straw sandal at Senso-ji Buddhist temple, pray under cherry blossoms… Under a big blue sky, we took splendid photos of Odaiba island from the platform of our boat as well as cool photos with the staff here and there 🙂

Miki & Ken singing with a piano and violin during a Sweet & Sound Cruise (Minato ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 18 April 2015.

Harusa Matsuyama in kimono with Sébastien Duval at Asakusa Shrine (Taito ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 18 April 2015. Photo by Eri.

The cruise is fine for Westerners but would be even more exciting with albums containing old maps, photos or ukiyo-e woodblock prints placed on the tables, with sale of traditional Japanese sweets/snacks like wagashi and karinto (plus a list of ingredients for allergic travellers), and with more Japanese songs (adding a lullaby would be great to transmit the Japanese culture).

The walk requires a method to avoid losing participants in the crowds and to prevent interruptions by bystanders jumping in for a photo with the geisha! To enhance the tour, the guide may bring a piece of kimono fabric to freely touch and may introduce holy seals at the last spot (Asakusa Shrine): watching a Shinto/Buddhist calligrapher write a goshuin is amazing but few Westerners know that! Finally, the guide may give maps introducing local restaurants and shops (see the Get Japan maps for examples).

I hope this feedback will help SGRS Tourism Agency make a better world, happier people 🙂 I just e-mailed the team!

Ken with Sébastien Duval on the Sweet & Sound Cruise boat (Minato ward, Tokyo, Japan) on 18 April 2015.

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!

English map at hotels in Chiyoda ward (Tokyo, Japan) during autumn/winter 2014

I had a great working week! I met many hotel managers and reception staff in the north of Tokyo’s Chiyoda ward, explaining and giving new Yes in Japan maps in English to ease their job, increase their customers’ satisfaction, and promote local tourism and businesses. The “Autumn/winter 2014” free map was welcomed so foreigners on holidays or business trip now find it at:

  • APA Hotel Akihabara-ekimae
  • Comfort Hotel Tokyo Kanda
  • Gakushi-kaikan
  • Hotel Dormy Inn Akihabara
  • Hotel Dormy Inn Suidobashi
  • Hotel Grand Palace
  • Hotel Metropolitan Edmont
  • Hotel Mystays Ochanomizu Conference Center
  • Hotel Niwa Tokyo
  • Hotel Villa Fontaine Jimbocho
  • Hotel Villa Fontaine Kudanshita
  • Hotel Villa Fontaine Otemachi
  • Kanda Central Hotel
  • Kanda Grand Central Hotel
  • Kanda New Central Hotel
  • Kanda Station Hotel
  • Keio Presso Inn Kanda
  • Ochanomizu Hotel Juraku
  • Ochanomizu Hotel Shoryukan
  • Ochanomizu Inn
  • Ochanomizu St. Hills Hotel
  • Remm Akihabara
  • Richmond Hotel Tokyo Suidobashi
  • Sakura Hotel & Café Jimbocho
  • Suidobashi Grand Hotel
  • The B Ochanomizu
  • The Korean YMCA In Japan – Asia Youth Center
  • Tokyo Dome Hotel
  • Tokyo Garden Palace
  • Tokyo Green Hotel Korakuen
  • Tokyu Stay Suidobashi
  • Trettio Ochanomizu
  • Washington Hotel Akihabara

Yes in Japan map: North of Chiyoda ward (Tokyo) in November 2014, front side.
Yes in Japan map: North of Chiyoda ward (Tokyo) in November 2014, back side.

Cycling everywhere, I could even eat Belgian waffles at Brasserie St. Bernardus, top grilled beef at Shozantei and a goya omelette at Nago café 🙂

Next week, I should speak more Japanese with shopkeepers and delegates of tourism/business associations… and English with embassy staff!

Party with Jimbocho’s Yomiuri Giants baseball fans at Hanaya restaurant in Tokyo (Japan)

Invited at Hanaya restaurant by its owner, I partied this afternoon with joyful Japanese elders from Jimbocho area (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan) including a Shinto priest, a chef, staff in the publishing industry… I was introduced as the promoter of the local area and businesses thanks to my Yes in Japan map of Tokyo Chiyoda North. During this annual gathering of baseball fans (Yomiuri Giants team), we talked in Japanese about sports, the Kanda Festival, Japanese life in the 1950s… while savouring tuna sashimi, beef stew and udon noodles prepared by the chefs! The drinks featured excellent old plum liqueur and smooth cold saké.

Japanese photomontage with sashimi, stew and udon noodles at 花家 (Hanaya) in 千代田区 (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo) on 08 November 2014.

Good news! I will have the honor to carry a omikoshi (portable Shinto shrine) during the Kanda festival of May 2015! Besides, I should accompany the group in March 2015 to a hot spring in Hakone that normally requires membership 🙂

Volunteer distribution of Osanpo Jimbocho 18 in Chiyoda ward (Tokyo, Japan)

Volunteer of the Osanpo Jimbocho team, I distributed today the well-designed 18th Osanpo Jimbocho magazine made in Japan and a related flyer at bookstores, restaurants, a cleaning shop, an art gallery, and the Gakushi-kaikan hotel near Jimbocho station (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, Japan). Thanks to the whole team, visitors enjoying Jimbocho Book Festival or Kanda Ancient & Rare Books Festival (25 October to 03 November 2014) will learn about the community and local services in Japanese.

Osanpo Jimbocho 18 on 01 October 2014.

As a local travel agent, I happily walked along the Suzuran and Yasukuni streets on this beautiful autumn day like many Japanese and foreigners speaking in English, Chinese, Korean… I also shared a good time with shopkeepers such as the owner of Mambaken, who joyfully showed me handwritten documents in French including notes by Jean-Paul Sartre and a letter by Napoléon!

The Osanpo Jimbocho team will soon resume its meetings to prepare the Spring 2015 magazine, to be distributed before the Suzuran Matsuri 2015.

Sales to business owners in Chiyoda ward (Tokyo, Japan) for autumn/winter 2014

Manager at Travel Stand Japan, I sold advertising spots on a map promoting Chiyoda ward (Tokyo, Japan) to business owners/representatives this week. We will give this Yes in Japan map in English to foreign tourists, businessmen, students, and residents near Jimbocho station in autumn and winter 2014. I do the sales in Japanese language by myself because typhoons keep my colleagues from the travel agency busy: cancelled flights, rescheduled trips… I secured 19 advertisers so far while broadening my human network and learning about the local businesses!

I visited former advertisers (Nago café, Otsumami-kaasan…) and new places such as the exciting cultural centre Origami-kaikan promoting origami and Japanese paper since 1858, the luxurious restaurant Shozantei and the new restaurant Mokuchi Jimbocho.

To attract more customers, Nago café now proposes food from Italy in addition to Okinawa (I savoured the “black cabbage and pork stew” for lunch). I will update the English menu then give a copy to the nearby hotels, starting with Hotel Niwa Tokyo.

Dining at Otsumami-kaasan, I happily met a Japanese gentleman from Kyoto who discovered the restaurant on the summer map and has already dined there 4 times! Unexpected proof of return on investment 🙂 I am now writing an English menu to ease interactions with foreigners staying at e.g. the nearby Hotel Villa Fontaine Kudanshita Tokyo.

The setting of Shozantei impressed me: beautiful tatami mats, good lighting, big decorations with flowers, top-quality meat, menus in English… Expensive but exceptional!

Finally, I did not know the restaurant chain Mokuchi but had a great time at its Jimbocho branch: friendly smiley staff, delicious fried chicken, an English-speaking chef translating his menu, cheap lunch boxes…

Japanese photomontage with flowers and products of businesses in 千代田区 (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo) on 06-10 October 2014.

This interesting week was crowned with a morning tour in Bunkyo ward, guiding a British couple to discover the Japanese gods. They loved that touch of inner Japan 🙂