Here’s our latest interview with a tour guide or certified local as we seek to learn from some of the top experts from the places we love.
If you are a certified tour guide and would like to be considered for an interview, drop me a note at: email@example.com and we can chat about specifics.
My questions are in bold and the responses follow below. Please excuse us if you see a mistake in grammar, we are travel bloggers not English writers. 😉
What’s your name and how old are you?
My name is Atsuko Takase. I’m 54 years old. In Japan 70% of licensed guide are over 50. Because national guide exam is quite challenge and hard to make living. So many people try to be guide after their retirement.
Do you have kids? If so, how old are they?
I have 2 children. 17 old son who is high school student in Christchurch New Zealand and 22 years old daughter who graduated university this year and just started to work.
Where are you originally from and what city do you currently live?
I was born in Niigata prefecture in Japan located Japan sea side which famous for high quality rice producing district and ski resort. Now I’ve lived in Tokyo about 30 years.
How long have you been a tour guide?
2 years. I had worked Airline company as a flight attendant during that time I was living in London UK.
Why did you want to become a tour guide?
Travel is one of my precious event. I enjoyed different places, food, and culture also I like meeting people. I’ve been traveled 23 countries and over 150 cities. Since I was traveled with kind consideration in foreign countries. So this is the time in my turn to help foreign tourists to make their stay pleasant and memorable one.
Are you a licensed tour guide? What cities? If so, from which organization?
Yes. I’m a National Certified Guide who must first pass the Licenced Guide Interpreter Examination administered by the commissioner The Japan Tourist Agency and apply to the governors of the relevant prefectures for official registration. This licence cover all through Japan not specific city. Until last year only licensed guide allow to guide with remuneration and fine of up to 500,000 can be levied on unlicensed, paid guides. However this low was revised because of rapid increase of international visitors and toward to 2020 Tokyo Olympic. There are not enough licensed guide it is said the examination is too difficult that pass rate is only 20%. After the low effect non licensed guide can conduct the tour with remuneration. There are concern about the quality of the guide so you had better carefully select the guide.
How many tours have you provided?
About eighty so far. Japanese tourism industry April and Autumn are very busy especially cherry blossom season; however, Summer and Winter are quiet season not so many jobs.
Let’s get to the exciting stuff. Why should anyone visit the city?
Tokyo is capital of Japan is a concentrated center for everything from culture to politics to economics. There are so many spots to see one of the charm is modern and monuments meet historic temples, shrines and other structures.
Is the city safe? What areas are not safe?
Tokyo is the safest large metropolitan city in the world!
What’s the weather like?
We have four clear cut season. Average temperature : *Winter (Jan) 6.1C / 43F , *Spring (Apr) 14.6C / 58.2F *Summer (Jul) 25.4C / 77.7F *Autumn (Oct) 18.5C / 65.3F. We have rainy season called “tsuyu” from middle of June to late July, if you plan to come to Tokyo that had better avoid this period.
What languages are spoken in the area? Is English spoken?
Japanese. It is said only 28% can speak English. We study English from junior high so many people can read or write English; however, there are almost no opportunity to speak English, you know we are all Japanese not many immigrant so usually no need to speak English.
Is US Dollar widely accepted?
No. Japanese yen or credit card.
What are the best areas or districts to stay in the city?
Well, it’s depend on you what would you like to do. Each area has different charm and atmosphere. Tokyo has 23 ward and there are no dangerous area.
What’re your top 3 hotels and why?
There are many luxury foreign company hotels in Tokyo like Ritz-Carlton, Conrad, The Peninsula, Shabgri-La and Aman etc… I introduce Japanese company hotels.
-Hoshinoya Tokyo….Operated by Hoshino resort group full of Japanese hospitality
-Imperial Hotel…….Legendary Tokyo landmark Hotel for over 120 years
-Tokyo station Hotel……one of small luxury hotels in the world. It is located Tokyo station and is a designated Important Culture Property of Japan.
How does one get around the city? Taxi, Uber, similar apps, ATVs?
Public transportation system is very efficient! Taxi is high standard service that door automatically open and closed some international visitor are impressed about this. Uber is not so popular in Japan.
Can you highlight the MUST see sight? Minimum of 5, feel free to share as many as you would like.
Sensoji temple, Asakusa
Tokyo sky tree,
Tsukiji fish market,
Harajyuku, Omotesando street
Shijnjyuku gyoen garden
What’s the best place to take a photo?
Odaiba, rainbow bridge
Kaminarimon gate, Asakusa
Meiji jingu shrine sake barrele display
What about the top 3 restaurants?
-Shiba Tofu Ukai
– Musashi 634 Teppan/ Tokyo sky tree
Tokyo got “World’s Best Food City Award By “Saveur” American magazine also the metropolis has the most Michelin starred restaurant in the world.
What‘s the one thing you MUST eat in the city?
Authentic fresh sushi and Ramen.
Any rooftop bars or restaurants that you recommend?
-Two rooms/ Aoyama
-Rooftop bar/ Toranomon Hills Andaz Tokyo Hotel’s terrace bar top 52nd floor
Can you recommend the best shopping areas? Best shopping mall?
What about food markets?
Tsukiji Fish market is very popular. Also “Depa chika” Every department store basement are food floor there are selected many shops.
Do you recommend any tours outside the city? Islands? Boat Tours?
-Hakone…….Many hot springs lakes with great view of Mt. Fuji about 60 to 90 min by train
-Nikko………..The world Heritage site “Nikko Toshogu shrine” is here about 90 to 110 min by train
-Kamakura……The ancient city. The hills seaside and streets are all packed into one small town about 60 min by train
Where should one go at night? Any bar/nightlife areas or districts you recommend?
-Golden gai / Shinjuku
Are Casinos allowed? Blackjack tables?
No. It’s illegal in Japan.
Any last advice for people visiting the city?
Tokyo hosts 2020 Tokyo Olympics so toward to them the metropolice are getting great change for international visitors. So more easy to navigate the city please come to Tokyo!
How can people learn more about you? Feel free to share your phone, email
and contact info below.
Thanks for your time! Your insights will help the next traveler.
Be Jetting & Buy Experiences!