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Tour Guide-Interpreter System

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Last Update : 2010/4/12

Individuals who escort foreigners and give them guiding services concerning travel with the use of a foreign language for a consideration has to pass the examination given by the JTA Commissioner and acquire a license issued by a prefectural government This section explains the Tour Guide-Interpreter System and the requirements for becoming a Tour Guide-Interpreter.

What is a tour guide-interpreter?

Tour guide-interpreter is a national qualification. Under the Guide-Interpreter Business Law, "individuals who escort foreigners and give them guiding services concerning travel with the use of a foreign language for a consideration has to pass the examination given by the JTA Commissioner and acquire a license issued by a prefectural government (Articles 2, 3, 18 and 36 of the Guide-Interpreter Business Law)." Performing tour guide-interpreter duties for a consideration without a license will result in a fine of no greater than ¥500,000 (Article 40 of the Guide-Interpreter Business Law).

How to Become a Tour Guide-Interpreter

Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) administers the guide-interpreter examination on behalf of the JTA. The examination is conducted once a year and the subjects, dates and locations are as follows.
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Examination Subjects

  • Foreign language (English, French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Korean and Thai) 
  • Japanese geography 
  • Japanese history 
  • General knowledge of industry, economy, politics and culture
  • Practical tour guide-interpreter ability (actual communication ability in the language selected for the written test. Character assessment is included. )

Examination Dates

  1. First-round examination: Late August to early September
  2. Second-round examination:
    • Those taking the English test: Early December
    • Those taking the test in languages other than English: Mid-December

Examination Locations

  1. First-round examination: 
    • Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Naha, Seoul, Beijing, Hong Kong, Taipei
  2. Second-round examination: 
    • English/Chinese: Tokyo, Kyoto, Fukuoka
    • Other Languages: Tokyo

About the Region-Specific Tour Guide-Interpreter System

The Region-Specific Tour Guide-Interpreter, who conducts guide-interpreter duties only within the specific prefectural or metropolitan region, became an approved qualification on April 1, 2006. Prefectures were also empowered to administer the examination. Since the Region-Specific Tour Guide-Interpreter examination is administered only by interested prefectures, there may be regions where this qualification is not available. As of 2008, the Region-Specific Tour Guide-Interpreter examination has been introduced by a total of six prefectures: Hokkaido, Iwate, Tochigi, Shizuoka, Nagasaki and Okinawa.

Tour Guide-Interpreter Search

This website provides foreign visitors coming to Japan the ability to search for qualified guide-interpreters. The user can find a guide-interpreter and search by region, knowledge area, language, and other search criteria, and directly contact the guide-interpreter to make a booking for their service.