Contributing to vitalization of local economy by utilizing regional tourist resources and multilingual human resources

otomo Inc. (Tokyo, CEO: Yuki Hiratsuka) has launched a private tour service for overseas travelers, “otomo”. They have started accepting reservations for more than 150 kinds of tour packages in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, and Saitama.
They are planning to expand their services to thirteen prefectures including Kansai area.



About the service

otomo is a private tour service that introduces overseas visitors a tour guide who speaks foreign languages. Anyone over 18 years old with a certain level of foreign language(s) can register as a guide regardless of nationality (*1), occupation, and qualification. The fee will be paid by a user of the service in the range of 1000 to 10000 JPY per hour and guides can decide the amount as they wish.

How it started

​Providing profitable guide services in foreign languages used to require the national certification before; however, since the Guide Interpreter Law was revised in January 2018, it does not require the certification anymore.

To meet the diverse needs of increasing overseas visitors, otomo Inc. started developing the service through test marketing by accepting registration from guides and limited reservation of tours since February 2018. As they have received positive reviews about tours from tourists and guides, they have launched the service officially.


Details of the service

First, tourists select a tour package and a guide to book a tour. Within 24 hours, a guide who received the reservation request will answer if they are available or not. If the guide is available, the reservation is done. The tour price will be fixed by a guide considering package contents and the number of participants.

Tourists do not always have to choose a guide by themselves. Once the company receives a reservation request, they will arrange a guide who is suitable to conditions.

As of January 2019, tours are available in English, Chinese, Cantonese, and Korean. Anyone over 18 years old with a certain level of the language can register as a guide from the website, and after registering, they have to upload ID and have an interview with the company staff. More than 200 guides (30% is guide interpreters) are registered as of January 2019. The guides vary in age from the 20s to 60s and in occupation from students, workers, housewives to retired workers. As the service will be expanded to other locations in Japan, the registration of guides will start nationwide.

Feature 1: Improving travel experience of overseas travelers through private tours

  • To meet various needs of travelers, there are original and unique tour plans. And by having travelers choose their guide, the tour will be more personal as guides can listen to preferences and requests of participants.
  • Tour plans are made based on survey the company has conducted. And the registered tour guides are selected after interview. At almost the same price as other group tours or even less, they provide higher quality tours.

Feature 2: Creating opportunities for talents with foreign language skills

  • As guides can decide their hourly fee by themselves, they can get paid based on their experience and skills that they value.
  • Guides can work utilizing their language skills and hobbies during their free time. Also, otomo supports guides as well through trainings and study tools, so people without guide experience also can be a guide.

Feature 3: Contributing to vitalization of local economy by utilizing regional tourist resources and multilingual human resources

  • By including tourist spots that are not known by travelers in tour plans, otomo promotes more trips to provincial areas and avoid overtourism.
  • If people travel places in Japan on a tour provided by this service, there will be more opportunities for talents with foreign language skills to work and for local consumption. And the local economy will be vitalized. otomo has discussed about cooperating with several local governments and tourism associations.


Current available tour plans (150 plans in Tokyo and other 3 prefectures)

Tour examples in Tokyo

Tour examples in Kanagawa

Tour examples in Chiba

Tour examples in Saitama

Details in numbers

Since 2011, the number of overseas visitors has been increasing every year for 7 years in a row. In 2018, it reached over 30 million in a year (*2) and it is expected that the inbound tourism market will continue to expand. And not only the increasing number of visitors, but it is also suggested that the needs of travelers are becoming more diverse based on the following indexes (*3).

  • Number of travelers who have visited Japan more than twice: 17,610,000 (3.3 times more than 2012)
  • Percentage of independent travel: 75.7% (Increased by 14.9% since 2012)
  • The total number of people stayed in provincial areas: 32,660,000 (3.8 times more than 2012 / 2.6 times more in urban areas)

Including 2,630,000 foreigners with status of residence in Japan (320,000 of them are students), it is estimated that there are several million people with foreign language skills in Japan. Under these circumstances, including 24,000 interpreter guides, guides are expected to be flexible to the various needs of increasing overseas travelers.

Launch celebration promotion

To celebrate the launch of the service, otomo offers a promotion for overseas travelers to experience their private tour. Amongst 150 kinds of tour plans in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, and Saitama, they are giving away each tour to 150 groups (max number of people: 900) in total. Apply now from their official Facebook page. For details, check out their promotion site. (This promotion is for those living outside of Japan.)

Promotion details:
*Promotion ended in February 2019

<About otomo Inc.>

Address: 3F Santomi Building, 3-13-3 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
CEO: Yuki Hiratsuka
Establishment: April 2017
Capital: 107 million (incl. capital reserve)
Business: Operating private tours for overseas visitors / design consulting business
Registration No.: 3-7570 approved by the governor of Tokyo


<Inquiries regarding this article>

otomo Inc. (Kitagawa / Otani)
Tel: 03-6876-6003

*1 Citizens with a foreign nationality is required to have a status of residence in Japan to work as a guide
*2 Number of overseas visitors (Japan National Tourism Organization)
*3 Consumption Trend Survey for Foreigners Visiting Japan in 2017 (Japan Tourism Agency)
*4 Number of foreign residents in Japan (Ministry of Justice)
*5 Number of registered interpreter guides as of April 2018 (Japan National Tourism Organization)