Skills needed to guide foreigners in Japan|Explanation about guiding that fulfills what you want to do.


Motenas Representative
Motenas Representative

What is the role of a guide for foreigners visiting Japan?
What skills do foreign guides need?

There are several roles for guides for foreign visitors to Japan. In addition, guides do not need multiple qualifications or ideas.

The author, a former hotelier who has interacted with many guides, will explain the skills and roles required of guides for foreigners visiting Japan.
As a guide, you can escort foreigners to enjoy Japan to the fullest!

Role of guides for foreign visitors to Japan

What is the role of a guide for foreign visitors to Japan? First, we will explain the role of a guide for foreign visitors to Japan.

Introduction to Japan
Resolving language issues
Deeper understanding of Japanese culture
Building bridges with people in the community

Introduction to Japan

The first role of a guide for foreigners visiting Japan is to introduce Japan. Foreign visitors to Japan have a variety of purposes, such as sightseeing and business in Japan. Try to understand their needs and introduce Japan to them.

They will be pleased to learn about the history of the tourist destination, how it came to be, and the background that led it to where it is today.

For example, Sensoji Temple was built 1,400 years ago. After three days, a dragon with gold scales descended from the sky. After three days, a dragon with golden scales descended from the sky.

By explaining these things to them, they can learn about and understand the Japanese identity and way of thinking.

Resolving Language Issues

One of the roles of a guide is to solve language problems. Most foreigners visiting Japan do not know Japanese.

Some people know “konnichiwa” (hello) and “ohayo gozaimasu” (good morning) as greetings, but when it comes to sentences, the reality is that it can be difficult. The Japanese language is famous as one of the most difficult languages in the world, with various forms of hiragana, katakana, ambiguous expressions, and honorifics.

Solving this problem is one of the major roles of a guide. Visitors to Japan will be glad to hear that you can interpret if they have trouble interacting with shopkeepers, or simply offer a helping hand if the words they want to convey are not coming out.

Deeper understanding of Japanese culture

Guides also play a role in helping visitors gain a deeper understanding of Japanese culture.

It is fine to simply take them to sightseeing spots and let them spend their time freely, but by giving them the background and history of each one, they will get to know Japan more deeply.

For example, we recommend introducing advance information before seeing a Kabuki performance.

Just saying, “Kabuki is a traditional culture that has been around for 400 years, and its etymology comes from the word kabuku, which means “to dress up strangely,” is enough to get you interested in the background.

By introducing Japanese culture to foreigners, guides can give them a deeper understanding of Japanese culture.

Building bridges with people in the community

One of the roles of a guide is to build bridges with local people. By connecting foreigners with local people who are visiting the area for sightseeing, you will be welcomed and appreciated by the locals.

For example, if you offer an experience of making traditional crafts and introduce the lifestyle of the local people, foreigners will be interested in the lifestyle and ask questions to the local people.

Foreigners can expand their knowledge, and local people can make themselves known to the world. Guides also serve as bridges between local people.

Skills required of foreign guides

What skills do you think are necessary for a guide for foreigners?

In fact, it is not considered necessary for a guide to have significant skills. However, general English conversation and communication skills are necessary.

English conversation

A typical example of the skills required of a foreign guide would be “English conversation.

English conversation is fine at a basic conversational level. If you are dealing with tourists, it is safe to say that there is little conversation using advanced grammar. Business visitors to Japan require knowledge of some difficult conversations.

However, it is important to recognize that simple English conversation is sufficient for greeting people and providing tourist information. English conversation is a typical example of a skill required for a guide.

communication skills

More important than English conversation are communication skills.

Communication is not only about words, but also about trying to communicate by looking people in the eye and trying to communicate with gestures.

Japanese people are said to be high context, with a deep-rooted culture of understanding through facial expressions and tone of voice, rather than communicating through conversation, but if your guide is high context, you will be in trouble.

Using language and polite conversation when communicating with foreigners will satisfy foreign visitors to Japan.

Click here for an article explaining the difference between Japanese manners and those overseas.

What Foreign Visitors Want to Do in Japan

What do foreign visitors want to do in Japan?

This section will be divided into two sections: Japanese food and cultural experiences.

Japanese Food Experience

One of the things I want to do in Japan is to experience Japanese food.

Japanese food is a culinary culture that is attracting worldwide attention, and “Japanese food” has been registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Surprisingly, Japanese izakayas are also popular among foreigners. It is a good experience to drink in the bustling atmosphere of a restaurant, a style of eating and drinking that is not common overseas.

You will be able to enjoy Japan more deeply by experiencing a variety of Japanese foods during your stay, such as elaborately made Japanese sweets and sushi with fresh ingredients.

Experiencing Japanese Culture

Experiencing Japanese culture is another thing foreigners want to do. Mainly, they want to experience and appreciate traditional culture. What are some of the popular traditional cultures?

The following are the results of a survey conducted by Motenas Japan among foreigners.

No. 1: Kabuki
No. 2: Samurai, Killing
3rd: Ninja

It is clear that the image of old Japan remains strong. Kabuki, Samurai, and Ninja can all be viewed and experienced. If you can experience even one of these traditional cultures during your stay, you will feel like coming back to Japan again.

For more information on the survey, please see this article.

What foreign guides struggle with

What are some of the difficulties that foreign guides face? As a guide, you may encounter various troubles. Avoid problems by knowing what to expect and preparing in advance.

Tour Preparation and Arrangement

One of the difficulties for foreign guides is preparing and arranging tours.
There is a wide range of things to do, such as acquiring knowledge in advance and making arrangements. On some group tours, lunch may be served on the bus, and the guide may be responsible for arranging this.

Where are the tourist attractions?
Where is the restroom?
Time to explain?
What about meals?

Sightseeing requires you to think about many things, but if you take the time to imagine the situation, you will be able to handle it. In the beginning, preparing and arranging tours can be a challenge.

Cultural Differences

Among the difficulties that foreign guides face are cultural differences. This is largely due to issues such as religion and food.

For example, Muslims are known to pray five times a day, and they do not miss it even when they are sightseeing. These days, prayer and prayer rooms can be found in airports and shopping malls, but it should be noted that they are not available everywhere.

It is good to have a measure for when people ask to pray during sightseeing. We recommend that you suggest to your Muslim guests to do it in a simplified way or to combine 5 times into 3 times.

Language Issues

Language is a point of difficulty when you are guiding. Even if you are fluent in English, you may not be able to understand English with a foreign accent, or vice versa.

You will have to get used to this by doing it in numbers, but these days you can also talk to people via smartphone apps.

By using an interpreter application, you can translate the words you read and speak them, so you can take advantage of this if you do not understand the other person’s words.

It takes time, but it is recommended that once the language problem is solved, you will find it fun to talk to each other at once.

Let us customize your tour and assist you!

One of our roles is to take the needs of our clients and arrange tours and experiences for them. But customizing and arranging tours can be very time-consuming.

Motenas Japan also offers services to help customize and arrange tours. Whether you are interested in experiencing traditional culture, such as experiencing Kabuki or dressing up in a kimono, Motenas Japan can customize a tour to meet your requirements.
Please feel free to contact us for the entire tour or even a portion of it.


The role of a guide for foreigners is to help them enjoy Japan to the fullest and fulfill their “want-to-do”.

If you are equipped with English conversation and basic communication, you will be able to satisfy your foreign customers.

If you have any questions about customizing your tour, please feel free to contact us at Motenas Japan. We will take your needs into consideration and propose the best tours and experiences for you.

Contact us for a consultation !