Last Saturday I attended a workshop on guiding in English at Will Aichi (Aichi Prefectural Women’s Center). I learned many good points not only for guiding but also for better communication from the lecturer Ms. Makiko Kumazawa, who is a professional English speaking guide.
Ms. Kumazawa gave the lecture under seven heads: professional guide’s job and role, the past, the present and the future on inbound travel, what foreign tourists seek in Nagoya area, guiding points in Nagoya area, hints for guiding, manners as a guide, and self-study for better guiding.
1. Professional guide’s job and role
It’s necessary to pass a state examination to become a guide in Japan. Since “Visit Japan Campaign” started by the Land and Transport Ministry last year, the jobs as guides have been increasing and the role also has become more important. According to Ms. Kumazawa, sightseeing was undervalued in Japan at least 10 years ago. But recently the value has been appreciated, resulting in a growing number of guiding languages.
2. The past, the present and the future on inbound travel
According to Ms. Kumazawa, inbound travel means tourism from abroad to Japan. The governmental “Visit Japan Campaign” has served as a tail wind to the rising tourism from abroad. In the past, the typical route of sightseeing in Japan was from Narita Airport (Tokyo) to Hakone and then to Kyoto and Nara area, passing through Nagoya area. But recently Centrair (Chubu International Airport) has become a hub airport, and many tourists go sightseeing in various areas, especially northern Japan, from Nagoya area. In conventional tourism, sightseers used to just go see old Japanese temples, but lately walking tours in nature, experiences of Japanese sub-cultures such as animations or ladies fashion and of communication with local people have been more popular. Modern eco-tourism and technical visit are also in favor, which are called SIT (special interest tour).
3. What foreign tourists seek in Nagoya area
It often says that there’s no places for sightseeing in Nagoya. Nagoya was almost burned down during the World War II and most of the town had to be rebuilt after the war. That’s why old buildings don’t remain so much. But therefore Nagoya is one of the world’s largest industrial areas, and it has Toyota. Sightseers can have great experiences through the industrial tourism.
4. Guiding points in Nagoya area
As I wrote above, Nagoya has a few old buildings for sightseeing. Nagoya Castle, which is one of the best tourist attractions in Nagoya area, is a replica. But Ms. Kumazawa says that the imperfection can be made up by anecdotes or introduction of geographical and climatic features or of local people’s disposition or dialect and so on.
5. Hints for guiding
People who have much knowledge are apt to parade their learning. Guides should understand what the tourist wants to know and give the information with accuracy. Ms. Kumazawa says that she thinks the guiding might be a failure if the tourists said “You know very much! You are a teacher!” Guiding should not be one-way self-complacency, should be interactive communication.
6. Manners as a guide
You will be a guide for a variety of people at different places, you should be well-groomed accordingly. You should understand differences between other countries’ and Japanese customs like table manners and taboo. Especially learning food restriction is very important such as Islamic halal, Jewish kosher, and vegetarians under religious belief or health problems. Ms. Kumazawa told an inside story. One day she guided for a group which includes some Muslims. She had had arrangement with the manager of a hotel many times about food. In spite of her best endeavors, the hotel almost served bacon that day…When she quarreled with it to the manager, he was confused by her anger. Of course, noticing that bacon was made from pork, he made a humble apology to her. Japanese people may tend to be careless about other countries’ customs.
7. Self-study for better guiding
You should gather related information to guide, seek good points in tourist attractions, walk around the area, learn proper English expressions. And Ms. Kumazawa says that you should keep smiling and enjoy yourself!