Updated: Nov 7, 2022
Hi, guys! How are you spending these hot days? There may be some who have not taken a summer vacation yet.
When we think about the vacation, we enjoy planning what to do, what we want to do, or what we can do during the free days (mine starts around August to September) whether we are still under the influence of the pandemic or not.
What is fresh in my mind is that by the holiday season, Golden Week, of 2022, the quarantine for travelers to Hawaii had already been lifted, and the withdrawal of quarantine for visitors to the mainland U.S. followed it.
I was hoping to travel to the mainland U.S. for my summer vacation because that would be a priceless experience even though the USD was expensive. Then, a question came up to me; How had I managed to travel abroad before? I thought about what kind of thing I take time to research every time in advance and found that my biggest worry is access from the airport to the hotel.
The reasons are as follows:
Due to my poor foreign language skills, I try to use signage, but it is not easy to understand;
Body language and gestures to ask the locals for help are not so helpful;
I want to get to the hotel from the airport with big luggage without getting lost at the lowest cost;
The route/guide from the arrival gate to the airport shuttle terminal, or the one to the destination after getting off is hard to follow despite the prior research.
I wondered if visitors from abroad will be anxious as me when arriving at the airport. Then I found that there is a volunteer organization, Narita Airport Volunteer Skylets , which supports travelers when they arrive at Narita/Haneda airport to relieve their worries by picking up and escorting them. We had a chance to interview Skylets, so please take a look at the organization summary and read about its activities to the end.
 Narita Airport Volunteer Skylets [hereinafter Skylets].
Name: NPO Narita Airport Volunteer Skylets
Originally gathered as a volunteer group for the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. The activity was voluntarily kept by the members, and the group became a non-profit organization in 2010.
Number of Supporting Members: 60 (as of March 31, 2022)
Offering a sense of relief to visitors from abroad through activities including welcoming with the hospitality of omotenashi; Contributing to creating a fulfilling and comfortable society by broadening international perceptions of supporting members.
Supported Language: English
Website's URL: https://skylets.jimdo.com/engilish/
Skylets' activity is officially admitted by Narita International Airport Corporation (NAA), and major clients that request the pick-up and airport volunteers are travel agencies, universities, public offices, etc. The volunteer service is available to private travelers and groups, too.
 Skylets accepts offers from solo travelers and groups of about 2 to 10 people, but not subcontracts from travel agencies.
After picking up baggage and passing through the Customs Inspection, traveler(s) will see Skylets' staff waiting with a welcome board at the Arrival Lobby. The staff members guide the visitor(s) to the ticket vending machine of the airport train station/bus terminal or the chartered bus.
Skylets' member works in pairs and one pair supports from one to ten people. When someone wants to drink something or go to the bathroom, or needs to go somewhere, either one guides him/her while the other keeps an eye on the belongings.
One client had been so pleased with the service and invited the member to a party and welcomed very friendly when the member visited the client's country. This is a good episode that shows how travelers enjoy Skylets' service and encourages Skylets members to keep communicating with people visiting Japan friendly and naturally.
We also heard about Skylets' activities other than those at airports and would like to list a few of them below.
Games Volunteers for the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games
Comment from one of the members of Skylets:
"I was so moved and thought it was right that I participated as a volunteer because when I saw the fighting spirits of skiers who were performing at the highest level in the world and also the spectators who were cheering with enthusiasm."
Volunteer support for athletes participating 2005 the 8th Special Olympics World Winter Games, Nagano, Japan with entry formalities, picking up luggage, and attendance to the bus tour to the opening ceremony venue.
Comment from one of the members of Skylets:
"An amazing thing happened when the Special Olympics founded by members of the Kennedy family held in Japan for the first time. Athletes from South Africa were singing and dancing to the wonderful music for us, volunteer staff, at our first meeting. When we supported the officers from the headquarters of the Special Olympics, another amazing thing happened. They asked us to their office if we had a chance to visit the U.S.
I visited their office in Washington D.C. later, and there were photos of the Nagano Special Olympics displayed. Then the staff looked through them to find me, and when they found me with my name though I looked small in the photo, the place was filled with applause. I was told that the Special Olympics in Japan was so great and the athletes went back home with great satisfaction, and showed their appreciation, saying that all the U.S. citizens fully appreciate and respect Japan.
Meeting and communicating from the heart with athletes of the Special Olympics has been one of the most memorable experiences through the volunteer activities at airports used by people traveling abroad."
Presentation of volunteer activities at the panel discussion of The Volunteering Symposium for the Upcoming Tokyo 2020 Games held by Chiba Prefecture in 2018
Photo in the left: PIXTA / Photo in the right: Skylets
Presentation of volunteer activities requested by Tokyo for Tokyo 2020
How was the article?
It may have reminded you of when you came to Japan, and I hope the information above can help you with anything.
On June 10th, 2022, the entry restrictions were revised on June 10, 2022, and all the receiving organizations located in Japan such as travel agencies and companies that hire new employees for purposes including business and employment for a short/long-term staying, are obligated to be responsible for foreign nationals who apply for a new entry into Japan. Under those circumstances, Skylets is halting the activities of picking up and guiding to avoid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, contacting Skylets would be helpful when your family members, friends from home, or groups of co-workers are visiting Japan in the future.
 Contact at least 3 weeks in advance of the arrival date.
N.B.: Circumstances keep changing. Check the latest information from the link below. https://www.mofa.go.jp/ca/fna/page4e_001053.html
Contact for Skylets: https://skylets.jimdo.com/engilish/inquiry/
The second interview with Skylets is being planned for its restart of picking up activities at airports, so please keep checking the articles!
If you know any volunteer organization like Skylets in your country, let us know from the "Comments" section at the bottom!