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 😉

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 🙂

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.

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 🙂