I’m Mayu, a Tomodachi Guide!
“Tomodachi” means “Friends”.
The feeling I get when I act as a guide for people from around the world, and make more and more “tomodachi” around the world, is something I can’t get enough of.
In this article, I’d like to talk about when I was a tour guide for Hui and Jonny, a husband and wife from Malaysia who were on their first trip to Japan.
They came to Tottori by bus from Osaka.
Buses run about once every hour between Tottori and Osaka, from early in the morning to late at night.
On this trip, they took the bus that left Osaka at 7:00 AM and arrived in Tottori at 9:52.
After meeting at Tottori Station at 10 AM, we all smiled and introduced ourselves.
Nanako, another Tomodachi Guide, joined us here as well.
Hui and Jonny were a kind, cute couple, and we opened up to each other right away.
From our correspondence before they came to Tottori, I learned that Hui and Jonny both love photography.
So the first thing I wanted them to see was the magnificent scenery of the Uradome Coast.
Here you can see dynamic scenes created by wind, snow, and the rough waters of the Sea of Japan.
The waves are often calm, though, and you can sometimes see people enjoying sea kayaking in the clear waters of the bay.
Jonny was really interested in sea kayaking, and he enthusiastically said that next time they would come back in the summer and try it.
For people who want to take their time and thoroughly enjoy the scenery, I recommend the hiking course along the coast, but this time we took a cruise in a sightseeing boat and enjoyed the view of the coast from the sea.
We had 30 minutes to wait until our boat set out, but the time flew by as they took photos.
Hui and Jonny loved the view of the houses along the coast with the mountains behind them, and took a lot of pictures.
So now, onto the boat.
The cruise lasts for about 40 minutes.
Jonny couldn’t stop snapping photos as each unique scene of strangely shaped rock formations came into view.
There is a guide on the boat, and as you pass each point of interest, they slow the boat down.
The captain’s tour information was in Japanese, so we would translate and add explanations along the way.
The sea birds followed along with our cruise as well.
After fully enjoying the amazing views, we were hungry, so it was time for lunch.
I believe that choosing a restaurant is where you have to be most careful as a guide.
You must thoroughly search for a place to eat that your guests will be satisfied with, while taking into consideration their physical condition and religious beliefs.
With this being their first visit to Japan, we decided to go to Gohanjin, a restaurant the serves set meals of Japanese food.
My friend, who is from Tottori City, recommends this place.
As soon as we got to the restaurant, we took a memorial photo out front.
Our guests loved the exterior and interior design, which resembles an old Japanese house.
There were free oranges for customers inside the restaurant.
Seeing that, Hui commented on how wonderful it was, unable to contain her surprise at the staff’s hospitality.
We all ate oranges as we looked at the menu.
Being careful to consider that our guests couldn’t eat pork or certain types of seafood for religious reasons, we placed our orders.
Our role was to explain in English what was written in Japanese on the menu.
When we felt like the explanation was difficult, we showed them photos as we talked.
While we waited for our meals, Hui and Jonny showed us photos and videos of their wedding ceremony, along with photos of what their everyday lives are like, and we felt like we were making a deeper connection.
Their meal sets were the chicken cutlet with grated daikon radish and plum seasoning and the grilled mackerel.
After we explained how to eat the various dishes, we all said, “Itadakimasu!”
“Itadakimasu” is a word that expresses our thanks toward the meal and the people who prepared it, and in Japan, we say “itadakimas” before every meal.
After eating half of their respective meals, Hui and Jonny traded lunch sets, giving them the chance to enjoy two kinds of lunches.
We were very happy to see that they ate everything and had fun doing it.
After eating a full lunch, we headed to our next sightseeing spot, The Sand Museum.
The Sand Museum, which is next to the Tottori Sand Dunes, has a different annual display with “Travel Around the World in Sand” as its concept.
This year’s theme is southern Asia.
The Mahatma Gandhi on display near the entrance is incredibly powerful.
After explaining to them that these sculptures are carved into sand that has been firmed up using only water, Hui and Jonny took their time looking at the fine details of the sculpture, including the blood vessels in his hands and the wrinkles on his forehead.
There is a sculpture of the Taj Mahal in the very back part of the museum, and a sculpture of the king and queen in front of it. Hui and Jonny obviously love photos, because they never miss a photo op. They made sure to get a photo of the two of them copying the royal couple.
After taking a good look at all of the sculptures, it was off to the next spot.
Hui and Jonny specifically said that they wanted to visit the Tottori Sand Dunes.
They have wanted to visit the sand dunes ever since they found photos of them on social media.
As a sightseeing spot, these are the largest sand dunes in Japan, and a symbol of Tottori Prefecture.
The only request they had here was they get a photo while riding on a camel.
Hui was a little nervous, but here she is on a camel.
After riding on the camel, we climbed to the top of the dunes.
We took our time making our way to the top, stopping quite often to take pictures.
Of course, Hui and Jonny were the ones giving directions on poses and where to stand.
We were able to take some pretty cool photos.
The last shot was a group selfie at the top of the dunes.
I will always treasure the photos we took during this tour.
The sun was beginning to set, and the time for us to part ways was approaching.
After helping them buy their return tickets at the bus terminal at Tottori Station, we said our goodbyes.
They said to us, “Thank you so much. We had a great time. This will be a lifelong memory for us.”
We were happy to hear that, but there was a sudden feeling of sadness as well.
After shaking hands and hugging, Hui and Jonny got on the bus.
We kept waving until the bus was out of sight.
It’s not even 3 hours from Osaka to Tottori, but there are many places in Tottori where you can experience a “Deep Japan” that you won’t find in big cities or more famous tourist spots. Please come and get a taste of the unique quietness, calm, and unchanging natural beauty of the unspoiled Japanese landscape here.
Take a tour with us, your Tomodachi Guides!