Japan’s capital for more than 1000 years, Kyoto City is known as the cultural heart of the nation, rich with architectural and artistic traditions which date back centuries. Finding the right guide to Kyoto can help to unlock deeper meaning and understanding of this beautiful part of Japan.

Kyoto Visitors Hosts (KVH) has a website ‘matching’ travellers with professional Interpreter Guides to suit their needs and interests in Kyoto. These local certified Guides are highly skilled and able to communicate the deep attraction of the Kyoto region and are specialist in many disciplines. Operating in the greater Kyoto area (Kyoto City, Uji City, and Otsu City), home to many World Heritage cultural sites, Kyoto Visitors Hosts are bringing joy to travellers by sharing their knowledge and passions.

How are the guides certified? The Kyoto City’s Interpreter Guide System is based on the Interpreter Guide Law of establishing regionally specialised interpreter guides. Under this system, highly skilled guides who have completed the require training and qualification checks can become certified by the Mayor of Kyoto City. In order to be certified, each applicant must have attained a designated level of language proficiency, completed a training course (45 hours), and acquired knowledge of hospitality, guiding skills, and Kyoto tourism, after which they must pass an oral examination. After clearing the selection process the pass rate is around 15%, they then receive basic training as a guide for about 3 months. Students will typically take one or more courses choosing from specialised fields such as ‘Traditional Industry, Traditional Culture, Food Culture, Cultural Properties’ and finally they can be certified as a guide. In addition many of the guides have their own qualifications and licenses in disciplines such as ikebana, tea ceremony, wearing kimono and many more. As of June 2022, there are about 200 certified guides active in Kyoto City.

How to book a Kyoto certified interpreter-guide. The easy-to-use website allows travellers to enter the date they would like a guide, the language (English, Chinese, French, or Spanish), the desired topic/s of specialization, and any other specific information to search for an available interpreter guide. Travelers can then select their preferred guide to discuss specific travel plans, sites to visit, and other details. When making a booking a simple first-time user registration is required and the service is also available to companies and travel agencies.

Meet some of our local certified guides:

Kikuko Akimune specialises in ikebana and holds a floral arrangement license. She has been busy during the COVID-19 pandemic welcoming international virtual travellers to Kyoto via her online ikebana classes. She says “Treasure every meeting, for it will never recur” a Japanese tea ceremony proverb.

Mika Hasegawa is a Japanese tea expert nicknamed Mika Tea. She shares the charm of tea and the tea ceremony and can introduce the difference between Japanese tea, Chinese tea, black tea, how to appreciate and enjoy it and tea utensils.

Naomi Konishi is an experienced guide with a wealth of knowledge and able to respond to a range of requests. She previously worked as a Concierge at one of Kyoto’s famous hotels. Now she makes good use of the experience and can guide visitors from famous historical shrines and temples in Kyoto to lots of places known by local residents, such as local sake breweries, local shopping arcades and more.

Miho Orihara has a very international background and has looked after numerous important clients, including royalty from the Middle East. She is well versed in higher levels of security and the special needs of travellers.

Armed with information about history, culture and traditional industries as well as Kyoto’s other charms; from local products to local residents and their lifestyles, Kyoto Visitors Hosts are the perfect trip companion for all travellers.