There are several perks to being a tour guide in a city with such a vibrant history like Kyoto. First of all, you will learn so much about the city you reside in, whether it is Kyoto, Osaka, Tokyo or Hiroshima. I thought I knew a fair bit about Kyoto’s culture and history before I started doing tours, but I have probably learned more about the city in these past couple of months as a tour guide than I did in two years living here.
When you start showing people around in the city you live in, it becomes important to keep yourself updated on current events and news stories, more so than just being familiar with its history and traditions. For me, this has had a huge impact on my overall life in Japan as a non-native. Since I started working for Arigato Japan, I have begun to see Kyoto in an entirely new light, and subsequently began to appreciate the city far more than I previously did.
To be completely honest, although I really enjoy my life in Japan, I am prone to getting homesick. For the first couple of years, every day was exciting. I would hang out with my friends, go bar-hopping and sing my heart out at karaoke most nights of the week.
However, when my friends started leaving Kansai and I got too tired to go out every night, nostalgia kicked in, and I would remember how easy everything was when I lived back in my home country. Being far away from friends and family really got to me after living here for five years, and I longed for the time I could go back and visit my loved ones back at home. My homesickness would make me less sociable, and more of a homebody that kept to herself.
So when I saw the posting for work as a tour guide with Arigato Japan, I saw it as a new challenge for myself and a great merit to put on my resume for future job hunting. Although that has proven to be true, working as a tour guide has changed me in more ways than that.
I have upped my social skills by speaking to visitors from all over the world. I have also improved my public speaking abilities by discussing and explaining Japanese food and culture. But above all, I have fallen in love with Japan all over again.
Really learning the details of the area you reside in, meeting wonderful co-workers who all want to help you grow and become the best that you can be, as well as showing excited visitors some of your favourite aspects of the host country is, in my experience, one of the best medicines to cure homesickness.
Meeting people who visit Japan for the first time has taken me back to when I first came here and made wonderful memories with all my friends while enjoying all the cool things that Japan has to offer. Now, as a tour guide, I am excited to share that feeling with guests who come and take my tours in Kyoto.
Being a tour guide will not only provide you with great work experience and great co-workers; it may also help you fall in love with the place you live in once more, and help others enjoy Japan as much as you do.