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 created my Gravatar profile “Sébastien Duval (寿春・セバスチャン)”

I just created my Gravatar profile “Sébastien Duval (寿春・セバスチャン)” in English on Gravatar Website to enhance my social presence on Internet and the experience of those reading my comments online.

Gravatar profile photo: Sébastien Duval

Free service, Gravatar gives people a standard online identity called “Globally Recognized Avatar”. The famous WordPress blogging platform uses Gravatar by default so that its users commenting on blogs/websites get their selected nickname and photo displayed automatically. It is more fun and satisfactory for commentators, readers and authors/bloggers/webmasters.

To create your own Gravatar profile and page, just register using your e-mail address, input a nickname and upload a photo 🙂 Later, you can add, change or remove information such as your core values, country of residence, practised activities, interests and hobbies, favourite movies and games, art projects, Christmas wish lists, recommended links…

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.

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!

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.

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 🙂