Today we continue our series on Huber friendly local guides in Japan and get to know some of the guides better in person.
If you’re new to this series, we recommend reading: Exploring Japan with Huber and the JR Pass first.
Introducing a Tomodachi Guide
My name is Yuusuke Inokai, but I am also known to be one of the most active Tomodachi Guides in Tokyo. Even though I am known as one of the active Tomodachi Guides, I am still only a 20-year-old third-year law student. The reason everyone thinks I am so enthusiastic is because of the number of times I have acted as a Tomodachi Guide in Tokyo. For a long time now, I have continually used Huber, and have participated in 19 practice tours, and 27 regular Tomodachi Guide trips in Tokyo.
Becoming a Tomodachi Guide
It was by chance that one of my friends from a high school introduced me to Huber. When I became a college student, I more or less spent everyday playing and going on trips. I was initially interested in an English debate club. However, I eventually found that the group would have activities involving only Japanese people, and would communicate in poor English. It was during this time where I didn’t have the opportunity to talk to foreign travellers in English, I was introduced to Huber, where I tried it out and found it fun and became a huge fan!
Experiences as a Tomodachi Guide
Let me start from the most recent fun tour! The tour was for 7 family members. They were travelling to many places in Japan. On the first scheduled day though, there, unfortunately, was a rainstorm. Among those in the group, 3 guests were elderly women and a baby in a stroller. After talking things over, the guides and guests decided that it would be dangerous to walk around in the rainy weather, so the tour for the day was cancelled. Fortunately, the weather rebounded, and it was sunny the next day.
With the previous day’s cancellation, I felt that I needed to make it up to the guest the next day. We went to Hachiko, Shibuya Hikarie’s observation floor to see scramble crossing, Asakusa, Sky Tree, and took a cruise that gave a view of Tokyo Tower. Afterward, we went to Harajuku.
After the tour, the guest wanted to go for a drink, so we headed to a small old-fashioned pub in Shibuya’s Nonbei Yokocho, an alley that is known to have many places to grab a drink. The place that we went to was a place where my upper-classman always goes to. While enjoying ourselves in the old small bar, we enthusiastically talked while eating and drinking, our conversations becoming slowly more nonsensical, but also more lively. As we became tipsier, we eventually found ourselves singing a song from the anime “Doraemon.” It was a perfect beginning of being friends!
On the other day, I was a guide for two travellers for two days in Tokyo. While exchanging messages with the guest before they start their whole trip to Japan, I got the impression that the guest this time will definitely be nice friends. Throughout the trip to Tokyo, we talked a lot, took pictures, and we even went to drink. I thought at the time that the trip went without a hitch, and everything finished smoothly. In the end, when it was time to see them off, I thought to myself that there probably wasn’t another guide who is as fulfilling as myself. Therefore, I mentioned to the guests, “Please write a review!” as we parted ways. When I arrived home and looked at the review, I was in for a shock! It was a rather critical review. I remember only one part, but it was “Limitation of spoken English,” which was quite shocking when I first read it. Now that I think back on it, as a guide, I think that maybe I also needed to study the tourist spots in the area more. I felt that I needed to learn about these two more areas, English and tourist research/knowledge. After studying and improving my English, as well as increasing my knowledge of sightseeing spots before going on the trips, I was able to receive a lot of good reviews!
In my case, I have been a guide for many trips, and among them for some reason. In at least 7 of my trips, after the trip ended, the guest would say, “When you come to our country, please contact us! Next time we will be your Tomodachi Guide!”. So when I go to their countries next time, I think that I probably won’t have any problems trying to find places to stay, and I won’t have to worry about anything! I believe this is one of the real pleasures of being a Tomodachi Guide. I want to go to those countries as soon as I finish my job hunting!