Cool Samurai GuideJoe Okada's 200th Kyoto Tour22 September 2016 - Local topics
"Cool Kyoto Walking Tour" has been led more than 200 times as of this month. In the tour, Joe Okada, an 87-year-old licensed English-speaking tour guide from Maizuru City, Kyoto Prefecture, who is known for his "Samurai sword demonstration," guides tourists around Kyoto City. The tour wins tourists' hearts as it allows them to interact with owners at stores along small streets and feel the lifestyles of Japanese people.
"Get a close look at Japan" every Saturday
Joe Okada has 54-years of experience with entertaining foreigners as a guide. As his "Samurai Nippon Show," in which he tossed an apple up and cut it in the air, became very popular, he performed the show on a large scale until the 1980s.
Joe began the Cool Kyoto Walking Tour in May 2012 in response to the increasing number of foreign tourists. The tour is held on Saturdays, starting at 10:00 a.m. from Kyoto City Hall, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto. Participants walk northward through Teramachi-dori Street, visiting stores and galleries, and then try tofu and sushi at Demachi Masugata Shotengai shopping street, Kamigyo Ward. The tour takes a total of five hours. A samurai sword demonstration is performed at a shrine on the way.
Participants come from various locales, including North America, Europe, Asia, and so on. With his excellent command of English, his tour guidance is sprinkled with humor. He visits traditional used book shops, Japanese confectionery shops, and shoe shops which sell "Geta" or Japanese-style wooden sandals to introduce Japanese culture. At a Japanese paper store he recommends that the participants try calligraphy. He carefully answers even simple questions from the participants.
Joe Okada said with a smile, "It's OK to visit famous shrines and temples, but I want tourists to get a close look at life in Japan. What is attractive is people living here and things existing here. Using my 54-years of experience, I will continue to be a guide who can meet every client's request."(translated by Galileo, Inc.)