Singaporean guide takes visitors on virtual tours of Kyoto
Together with his pet dog Mori, he takes tourists from all over the world to Japan's imperial capital, Kyoto, with the click of a button.
To stay afloat amid the pandemic, many travel companies have turned to virtual tourism, and so has Singaporean Lee Xian Jie, 30, a Kyoto-based travel guide.
The co-founder of travel company Craft Tabby charges 1,000 yen, or $13, for a 75-minute tour of Kyoto's waterfall at Mount Inari.
Up to six participants can join the online tour.
Speaking to The New Paper last week from the Ryujinmura Village in Wakayama, Japan, he said: "The travel restrictions saw an almost 100 per cent drop in business in April. I wanted to transcend physical boundaries to share what Kyoto has to offer."
In April, Mr Lee conducted the Flower Hunting in Kyoto with Mori the Doggo, a walking tour with his four-year-old "wild dog" he adopted in 2018, and it was a hit.
He said: "Mori became almost like my business partner. She sniffs out the flowers and plants, and I will take over and explain the origins of the plants."
Having lived in Japan for over nine years, Mr Lee, who graduated from Tokyo's Waseda University, speaks fluent Japanese and English.
He said being able to speak English helped as there were few guided tours in English in Japan.
"About 70 per cent of my clients come from the United States," said Mr Lee.
"A guide who is fluent in English can help answer questions better, especially because my tours delve into topics like ancient and modern politics and religion, and the questions can be quite complex."
Through video conferencing app Zoom, Mr Lee takes tourists to the lesser-known parts of Kyoto, beyond the thousands of torii gates, rock altars and forests flanked by maple, oak and cedar trees.
Currently, he is offering the Forest Bathe online tour, a four-hour walking tour to the shrine Fushimi Inari.
He also has two other virtual tours in the works.