Meet ‘On The Trip’, multilingual audio guide app for travel destinations in Japan


See the original story in Japanese.

Serial entrepreneur, traveling entrepreneur, Yukimaru (to reference the Japanese anime series Naruto) — Yuki Naruse is a man of many names. It has been nearly six years since we met for the first time and since then he has published works such as “Jibun no shigoto wo tsukuru tabi” (Making travel your work) and “Tabi no houshuu” (Getting paid to travel), always making travel the center of the projects he works on. Four years ago he co-founded Tabi Labo, a media site specializing in travel.

Last year Naruse entrusted Tabi Labo to his co-founder and left his position with the company. It appears his following movements stem from that decision. He is introducing a new service with travel at its core and hoping to attract people’s attention by changing how travel is experienced. “On The Trip” is an iOS app that turns your iPhone into an GPS-enabled audio travel guide. It was launched last week and is now available on the iTunes AppStore.

Art and history museums around the world often provide audio guides in multiple languages for tourists. Of course, the exhibits have explanations written in the local language and English, but I can’t be the only one who has experienced my depth of understanding deepen with the use of an audio guide. On The Trip takes the experience of viewing museum exhibits with an audio guide and applies it to sightseeing spots regardless of whether users are indoors or out.

The price of each audio content starts at 120 yen (about $1 US). For now you can buy and download content via in-app purchase, but in the future one example of an idea put forward is to sell it as a set with the admission fees to shrines and temples and then share the revenue. The content corresponds to a maximum of 5 languages (Japanese, English, Korean, Mandarin, and Cantonese), so there is no doubt of their ability to capture the demand of inbound tourists. They are currently working on content production with Niigata Prefecture’s “The Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial” and the Nara City Tourism Association.

It’s not only an audio guide for sightseeing spots, but also the one that can convey the spiritual culture of Japan.

As far as audio guide apps for art and history museums, MyGuide exists in Japan and MyTours can be used overseas, though there has not been much thought on bringing this experience out of buildings. In the future, On The Trip is contemplating developing audio guides using AR (augmented reality). It may become possible to add a time-transcending experience to your journey when you visit historic buildings, sites and ruins.

L to R: Akihito Shiga (Creative Director), Yuki Naruse (Founder and CEO), Kohei Morishita (CTO)

Translated by Amanda Imasaka
Edited by Masaru Ikeda