Home > Highlighting JAPAN >Highlighting Japan October 2014>Foreign residents at work in Japan

Highlighting JAPAN

previous Next

Foreign residents at work in Japan

Introducing Japan Online

Stefan Schauwecker and japan-guide.com

Search for travel and leisure information about Japan online and you’re certain to come across japan-guide.com, a website with over a thousand pages dedicated to showcasing Japan from various perspectives, such as tourist locations, accommodation information, a guide to living here and a user forum.

Swiss native Stefan Schauwecker started japan-guide.com as a hobby after he befriended his Japanese classmates at an English school in Vancouver, Canada. “I thought they were extremely nice and friendly,” he says. “I wanted to know more, and this sparked my interest in Japan.”

Schauwecker’s future wife was one of those classmates, and in 1996 as they dated he started uploading her recipes for Japanese food, followed by notes on Japanese culture. Schauwecker enrolled in college and pursued a degree in computer science, and along the way the website morphed into a simple A-Z catalogue of information about Japan.

As japan-guide.com grew, ads posted onsite were bringing in enough income that after graduating and working for a year in Canada, Schauwecker decided to make running the website his full-time occupation. He and his wife moved to her hometown in Gunma Prefecture in 2003, which, Schauwecker says allowed him more time and opportunities to travel around Japan and significantly expand the sightseeing guide.

Fast-forward to the present, and Schauwecker is the representative director of japan-guide.com Co., Ltd. Together with his wife and three other full-time employees, he keeps busy updating information on Japan’s forty-seven prefectures. Despite the sometimes-frenetic schedule, Schauwecker says the work is made worthwhile when users report that their trips went smoothly thanks to japan-guide.com.

Now in its eighteenth year, the website receives around 1.5 million visitors and 8 million page views per month, with the bulk of users accessing it from Japan, North America, Southeast Asia, Europe and Australia, in that order. Schauwecker attributes the website’s popularity to “the depth of our coverage, and that we try to stay up to date. It also helped a lot being an early starter.”

Schauwecker’s two decades of expatriate experience in Canada and Japan have been a decisive factor in making his business a success in Japan. “It’s an invaluable experience not just to travel in a foreign country but to live there,” he asserts. “And people are so friendly and considerate in Japan, which makes for a comparatively low crime rate and a smoothly functioning society.”

Schauwecker spends about 25 percent of his time each year traveling, and estimates he’s visited over fifteen hundred locations around Japan. One in particular is a destination nearly every year: Hokkaido’s Daisetsuzan National Park, which he describes as “a big, fascinating natural park with nothing manmade in sight. You can hike for a week and not pass any towns.”

In 2008, Schauwecker was appointed as one of over sixty “Visit Japan Ambassadors” by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Although more a recognition of his contributions to Japan’s tourism industry than an actual position, Schauwecker nevertheless feels it was a big honor to be named.

Schauwecker has also published two Japanese-language books on travel within Japan that detail the most fascinating aspects of the country from a foreign perspective. One is based on a review of user feedback to japan-guide.com, while the other highlights his own travel recommendations and thoughts on Japan.

Schauwecker remains committed to his website, and his team is working on a major overhaul of the japan-guide.com programming infrastructure, since it is still uses the same HTML format developed in the nineties. Schauwecker aspires to make japan-guide.com more accessible from all sorts of devices, including smartphones and tablet computers, and says: “My dream is to have the best English-language website on Japan.”

previous Next