Bilingual tour guides prepare for the post-pandemic era

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Bilingual tour guides in Japan have had little work recently as there have been few international visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But some recently qualified guides are now undergoing training for the post-pandemic era.

About 20 people attended a recent training session at one of Tokyo’s most popular tourist sites, Senso-ji Temple in the historic Asakusa district.

An instructor walked participants through how to explain things in easy-to-understand English. She talked about the structure of the temple and its five-storied pagoda, as well as the meaning of fortune bonds.

Government certification is available for guides fluent in foreign languages, such as English and French.
But the process is difficult. Less than 10% of candidates passed the exam for the current fiscal year.

Matsumoto Yoshie, President of the Japan Federation of Certified Guides, said, “I am confident that inbound tourism will soon regain its position as a key driver of the Japanese economy. We hope to be able to play a role in this again.

An industry survey shows that about 80% of bilingual tour guides made little or no money in this field last year. The number of candidates for the national exam has also fallen sharply.

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