Nijo Castle, Easy Understanding for Foreigners AlsoProfessional Guides, in Kyoto
Kyoto City official tours, in which specialists guide and explain attractive points, have recently started at Nijo Castle, in Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto. Until now, the castle had used rental audio guide players and distributed of pamphlets, but this tour aims to better reveal its attractiveness to the increasing number of tourists. Professionally guided tours are said to be rare even throughout the country.
The tour is cosponsored by Nijo Castle and the Kyoto City Tourism Association. At a meeting last year of a city advisory panel of experts regarding tourism promotion utilizing Nijo Castle, opinions were voiced calling for the enhancement of multilingual guide services. As a result, tours guided by specialists have been tackled in earnest for the first time.
The tours are conducted twice daily each in Japanese and English. The guide service areas include Ninomaru Palace, Honmaru Palace, the usually closed West Gate and other locations. City of Kyoto Visitors Hosts, who are interpretation specialists certified by Kyoto City, are in charge of the English guided tours. National certification is required for interpretation specialists earning compensation, however, the system of National Special Zones has allowed Kyoto City to certify interpretation specialists itself. Accordingly, the city has trained such specialists.
A rehearsal was held on October 30, where nine people participated in a Japanese-guided tour and five in an English-guided tour. In the English tour, the guide introduced attractive points while including the historical background. A consultant visiting from London, UK, happily said, "I had an opportunity to learn about the history and became quite interested. I think it is good to be able to ask questions."
At present, it is mainly volunteers acting as guides at shrines and temples. "We want to promote a culture of professionally guided tours from Kyoto," stated the organizer.
Guided tours in Japanese start at 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., while English ones start at 10:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. There is a maximum of 15 people per tour and tours last about 90 minutes. At present, the fee is 1,000 yen per person for tours in Japanese and 2,000 yen for those in English. For more information, contact the Nijo Castle office at 075-841-0096. Tours will not be held on Tuesdays in December, nor January, July or August of next year, as well as throughout the year-end and New Year holidays.(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)