Interview with Rakutabi, private guide services in Japan
1. Can you please introduce yourself ?
My name is Pierre-Juan, I'm a half-Spanish half-French self-made enthusiast entrepreneur who has decided to spend the last decade of his life in Tokyo and within the whole Asian region whenever he finds the opportunity to jump in an Airbus / Boeing airplane.
I'm initially a Market Manager / Business Developer but got specialised in hardware and system engineering systems 4 years ago. I currently run both an interpretation - client liaison and I.T. Consulting companies.
2. When did you arrive in Japan and create your company?
I arrived in Japan by the end of 2005 with a relatively light suitcase and nothing but two Japanese guide books. I later decided to create a private guiding tour company , named " Rakutabi " with the idea of providing fully customised private tours to foreign tourists in Japan. We mostly cover places such as Tokyo, Kamakura, Hakone, Enoshima, Okutama, Ome, Kyoto, Kiso (Nagano), Nara.
Currently, we operate with 5 regular free-lance guides of various nationalities (Spanish / French / Japanese / Chinese / Egyptian) and most of our guides speak 2 to 3 languages fluently.
3. Which kind of services do you provide and what do you specialise in?
Rakutabi aims at providing a fully private and customized tour program to our foreign visitors willing to experience a very unique way to see Japan during their stay in Japan.
We provide services such as escort to / back to the airport, escort to the visitor's accommodation (hotel, AirBnB...), individual tours to places such as Tokyo, Hakone, Kamakura / Enoshima, Yokohama / Minatomirai / Sakuragicho (China Town), Okutama / Ome, Nikko, Kyoto / Nara and more (ask us for details ;)
Currently, we are working hard on providing signature tours with lesser known spots located in the western region of Tokyo since this region has lots to offer in terms of pittoresque places. The western part of Tokyo will surprise you since you will pretty much find most wanted sceneries of Japan into one single region. Why would you want to travel extensively in the archipelago while you could basically witness a wide-range of typical Japanese landscapes situated within 1-2 hours of public transportation from Tokyo?
4. What is a typical program which you would suggest to your clients?
I would say that this generally depends upon the season. Being a Private Guiding Tour agency requires you to understand what a real customized / individual tour means in the eyes of the foreign visitor. We aim at providing a different vision, a different way to guide our visitors, unlike most other guiding tour companies around. Given that Tokyo will be holding the next Summer Olympics in 2020, we strongly believe that Tokyo's main touristic spots will become (and already are, in many ways) more accessible to foreign visitors. The need for a real private guide for those places will tend to decrease. That being said, the tours we provide are just off the beaten tracks.
5. What makes your visits different and better than other similar guides?
We offer our private guide service in 4 languages and most of our guides have been based in Japan for a long time. We always make sure to understand each of our visitor's needs prior to organizing their journey. We basically show you a more down-to-earth and less oneiric vision of Japan.
6. Can you name places which are not very well known but that you recommend to visit in Japan?
I would recommend to explore the Okutama / Ome areas with Mount Takao not very far in the background as well as some " secret " spots located within the Hakone region. Feel free to contact us for details.
7. Do you provide tour guide services for disabled people?
We do, please do contact us for details regarding this matter.
8. Do you provide themed itineraries? For example if someone wants to experience the Edo period or Buddhism for a day?
We make sure to adapt our services to our client's needs therefore we will make sure to address each visitor's tour expectation including this one.
9. Can you book tickets for a show or game (basketball, concert), accommodation (night in a temple), a cooking class... for your clients?
We do, we also provide various event / accommodation booking services as long as the visitor lets us know about his preferences and expectations before his arrival in Japan.
10. Can I book an itinerary without a guide if I prefer to travel alone or with my family but still want your recommendation and service for my trip?
We are able to advise you / give you some specific recommendations on a few concerns / ideas / questions which you may have prior to your departure. Our customer service is open and at your service 7 days a week from 10:00am to 10:00pm.