TOPTokyo LifeOmakase Helper: ‘I want to help families in Tokyo because I have a family too’

Omakase Helper: ‘I want to help families in Tokyo because I have a family too’

From documentation translation to assistance with school and housing applications, Omakase Helper is the perfect solution for international families living in Tokyo

By Alexandra Ziminski

When it came time for Dara Robinson to enroll her two-and-a-half-year-old into the Japanese educational system, she didn’t expect the stress that would follow. Endless research, overbearing paperwork, and translation issues marked just the beginning of her problems. With her husband busy with work, it fell to her to navigate her way through the labyrinth alone. But with Omakase Helper, you don’t have to endure the same issues as Dara.

CEO Takeshi Sakamoto (third from left) with clients from Spain.

What is Omakase Helper?

Omakase Helper started its journey as a travel agency named Omakase Tour helping visitors from around the world experience the wonders of Japan. However, when the pandemic hit and international tourists were locked out, CEO Takeshi Sakamoto pulled together the company’s resources and decided to extend that guidance inwards to the expat community on its doorstep. Through the firm’s translation and interpretation services, Omakase Helper takes the stress out of living in an, arguably, monolingual country like Japan. 

The silver lining of Robinson’s experience is now, as a part of the Omakase Helper team, she can support others with the knowledge she gained. Hand-in-hand, the experienced staff at Omakase Helper can escort you through the ups and downs of Japanese bureaucracy, interpret when dealing with schools, explain the differences between hoikuen (pre-school) and yochien (kindergarten), and help make sense of the mountain of paperwork and enrollment procedures. Furthermore, this is all achieved by using insider information to smooth out the process. 

Omakase Helper staff – Dara on the left and Chiharu on the right.

Big or small, Omakase Helper can relieve you of your translation woes 

People from all walks of life and locations come to Omakase Helper for its services, and with bilingual staff situated across the country, there’s always someone ready to greet them. A reasonable starting rate of ¥1,500 for a 10-minute call unlocks the gates no matter your budget. From a simple request for over-the-phone interpretation to complex and sensitive medical issues, almost any request is welcome; it could be you want to check your CV or resume for errors while job hunting, or you are planning a big family move and would like its housing and schooling package. 

Voices from the international community

One such client, Deanna moved from America alone with her five-year-old son. Living day to day in an Airbnb, she contacted Omakase Helper and Robinson immediately came to her aid. Working collaboratively with Deanna, they spoke deeply about her requirements and needs. Avoiding grim and impersonal documentation and red tape, they created an open dialogue and ultimately secured an apartment close to a reputable school that ticked all her boxes. “They were there throughout the entire process – helping me find a neighborhood and apartment that suited my family’s needs,” says Deanna.

Client Deanna Bradford (left) moves into her new home with the help of Omakase Helper staff member Chiharu (right).

Omakase Helper’s experts tackle problems that even native Japanese struggle with such as yearly tax returns and exemptions. Covid-19 was tough financially on many expats including Julie, a singer and Omakase Helper client. With hotels and music venues closed, her income dropped significantly and the forms required for financial aid might as well have been written in hieroglyphics.

Fortunately, helper Chiharu Hokari had also gone through the same process. As she says on its website, “Even I, as a Japanese person, struggled with this, so I can only imagine the hardships that foreigners living in Japan are experiencing on a daily basis.”

A simpatico and warm approach

The helpers’ knowledge and hospitality gained as tour guides, as well as useful tidbits you won’t find elsewhere, is what makes Omakase Helper stand out from other companies.

When house hunting, the team will point out the best local ramen joint. If you are looking for schools, they will connect you to welcoming parent-baby groups. This domino effect exponentially increases your well-being in Japan. Because the team members go the extra mile for their clients, it’s no wonder they keep coming back. 

Brad, a repeat customer, had trouble communicating with his landlord and daughter’s teachers and can’t recommend Omakase Helper enough. He says of the experience, “It’s great to have an affordable and responsive service like this. I feel like I can navigate living in Japan with much less worry thanks to them, and I’ll definitely be using their services again in the future.”

“Omakase” means “leave it to us” in Japanese. If you are seeking help with translation, interpretation or apartment hunting in Japan, don’t hesitate to contact Omakase Helper through its website: www.omakase-helper.com 


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