One of the grandest rewards of tourism is communicating with the local people. But while we often perceive “valuable communication” as a memorable verbal exchange, at times, it could take other, more subtle, or indirect forms of expression — the thoughtfulness in welcoming others, the attention to detail, the willingness to do everything in their power to help travelers create wonderful memories during their stay — or a simple smile that goes a long way. In some countries like Japan, this approach to hospitality has long been a part of their local culture.
Mentioned as early as in ancient books of over 1,000 years ago, the “omotenashi” culture of Japan and Tokyo is deeply rooted in modern society too. To share this unique culture of hospitality with the world, the Tokyo 2020 Games brought together 11,913 volunteers — known as “City Cast” — people of various backgrounds and interests who contributed immensely to the success of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Their outstanding response and hospitality fascinated many people across the world.
To find out more about hospitality in Tokyo, we interviewed Yoshiko Takayama, a former City Cast member who took part in various Tokyo 2020 volunteer activities, including welcoming and seeing off athletes at the airport. Takayama also participated in the “Presenting the attractions of Tokyo by City Casts” promotional event, where she introduced her neighborhood in a presentation titled “Akigawa Valley and its surrounding scenic beauty.