In order to become a tour guide in Japan, license is not necessary.
Tour Guide can introduce sightseeing spot (ex. kiyomizu dera temple) to travelers who come to the sightseeing spot.
You can talk about culture, history of specific area or guide specific buildings accompanying with tourists.
You need to have knowledge relating to specific sightseeing spot and language skill.
Until several years before, if you guide tourist and receive fee, you need to have license “通訳案内士=Interpreter Guide”. However pursuant to change of law, you do not need to obtain this license.
However without this national license, you can not say “I am a 通訳案内士”. The word “通訳案内士” is similar to trademarking. But you can act as a tour guide without this license. That is why, I believe this 通訳案内士 license is almost meaningless.
Difference between Tour conductor and Tour Guide
Tour conductor (hired by travel agency) can manage schedule of travel, arrangement of meeting place. Based on itinerary produced by travel agency, they can proceed with tour.
National license is necessary.
On the other hand, Tour guide can guide travelers at specific sightseeing spot. Tour guide can guide Travelers who have already arrived at sightseeing spot.
Even if you become a tour guide in Japan, how will you find customers ?
The number of tourists from outside Japan is increasing and the number of tour guide is not sufficient. More than half of tour guide is located in Tokyo are, in rural area, there are not enough tour guides.
As for language, most of tour guide can understand only English language. So, if you can understand Thailand, Chinese etc, you may be able to find customers.
(About 70％ of tourists come from China, Korea, Thailand etc)
In order to provide tourists with good service, you need to learn about history of Japan. So, you will study and try to attract tourist.
If you can incorporate company close to famous sightseeing spot, you may be able to find enough customers.
Tour Guide in Japan and Travel Agency Law in Japan
If you are going to become a tour guide in Japan, you need to know about the Japanese Travel Agency Law. Otherwise, you may be operating an unlicensed travel agency without knowing it.
To operate a travel agency in Japan, you need to obtain a travel agency license. If you have no experience working for a Japanese travel agency, obtaining a travel agency license would be too difficult.
So I would suggest that you start out as a tour guide in Japan.
This Travel Agency Law was enacted to protect customers. When people apply for a trip, they will pay a large amount of money upfront to the travel agency. If that travel agency suddenly went bankrupt, customers would be in trouble.
Therefore, if a company wants to operate a travel agency, it needs to obtain a travel agency license. In order to obtain this license, the company needs to have a solid financial foundation. In other words, it needs to possess a large amount of capital, etc.
On the other hand, the tour guide you intend to become cannot operate a travel agency. Instead, you can become a tour guide without having to obtain permission from the Japanese government.
(Of course, you need to have a status of residence that allows you to work in Japan, even if you don’t accept money from clients in Japan)
If a company arranges trips for its clients and receives no money from anyone, it does not need to obtain a travel agency license. In other words, you do not need to obtain a travel agency license if you do it on a volunteer basis.
Suppose a company arranges hotels for tourists. That company receives no money from the tourist. However, suppose it receives money from the hotel as a kickback. In this case, this company needs to obtain a travel agency license. The use of other names, such as referral fees or gasoline fees, is also not allowed.
If you wish to engage in any of the below activities, you need to obtain a travel business license.
1) The company prepares a travel plan to attract participants for a trip, makes arrangements for buses, hotels, etc., and makes reservations and contracts on behalf of customers.
2) Or, at the request of a customer, the company prepares a travel plan, makes arrangements for buses, hotels, etc., and makes reservations or contracts on behalf of the customer.
3) Or, at the customer’s request, make arrangements for buses, hotels, etc., and make reservations and contracts on the customer’s behalf.
(4) Provide consultation regarding travel.
Status of residence to become a tour guide in Japan
You wish to become a tour guide in Japan. In that case, you need to obtain a status of residence in Japan, if you have not already done so. Even if you come to Japan as a tourist, you can not engage in tour guide business in Japan.
If you want to start your own tour guide business in Japan, you need to obtain a status of residence of business manager.
To do so, you need to invest more than 5,000,000 yen and prepare a dedicated office.
You may not wish to make such an investment or prepare an office. In that case, you will need to find a business partner in Japan who will hire you as a tour guide.