GoWithGuideFind your perfect tour guide at GoWithGuide. Relax and cherish unforgettable tours with loved ones. Create personalized tours for a truly memorable trip!
GoWithGuide
GoWithGuideFind your perfect tour guide at GoWithGuide. Relax and cherish unforgettable tours with loved ones. Create personalized tours for a truly memorable trip!

Maximize Your Japan Experience: The Benefits Of A Local Tour Guide

Ajitsa A.

by GoWithGuide travel specialist:Ajitsa A.

Last updated : Jun 05, 202414 min read

Itinerary Ideas

Japan Tour Guide

 

Are you looking for the world’s last Emperor? Maybe you’re a fan of technological advancements that allow a highway to pass through a building. Both can be found in Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun has a perfect blend of old-world enchantments and futuristic convenience, so your trip should include the best of both. 

 

With that said, navigating the world’s most populated city at one end, and encountering the deer-filled streets of Nara at the other, can be pretty overwhelming. So do you really need a guide? Let's count the cost because ramen-filled vending machines and traditional tea ceremonies wait for no one!

 

 

​The Good

Why is it worth getting a tour guide in Japan?

  1. You’ll avoid the language gap. To say there is a language barrier in Japan is an understatement. Nearly 98% of the country’s population is Japanese, and less than 30% speak English. The numbers are lower for fluency, 8%. A guide would be essential for anyone looking to enjoy the country without the confusion and hassle of trying to learn a whole language. GWG guides are English-speaking, acting as a bridge between you and your new environment. Can you visit Japan if you only know English? Yes, but you'll have a rough time.
  2. You’ll have access to a wealth of knowledge. Japan is a collection of complex cultural practices that can't be stuffed into a quick guidebook or blog post. Touring the country with a local guide who has lived there for years opens you up to an enriching journey filled with firsthand knowledge.
  3. You’ll learn about the secret spots. Okay, we all know the major attractions, but those don't paint the full picture when it comes to Japan. Local intel on the best restaurants, shops, monuments, and parks is the best way to double the fun on your trip. Plus, you'll beat the crowds.
  4. You’ll save a LOT of time. There's nothing worse than looking around and realizing you have no idea where you are. Getting lost during such an important trip can lead to hours spent getting back on track, especially if your time in Japan is limited. Our local guides know how to navigate the busiest Tokyo streets. Beyond that, you won't have to waste time booking tours, or tracking down tickets and reservations after you've agreed on your itinerary with your guide.
  5. You’ll skip the culture shock. As pointed out earlier, Japan has an intricate network of social queues. Of course, as a tourist, you aren't expected to know them all, but a guide could help you avoid glaring mistakes (like impaling your sushi with your chopsticks).

Travel Q&A: What are some tour guide services in Japan?
GWG private guides offer many services, including; 
Itinerary Planning 

  • Transport and accommodation arrangements

  • Shopping assistance 

  • Food/ticket/activity reservation

  • Highlight Tours

  • Custom Tours 

  • General Venue Tours

For a full breakdown or additional questions, head to our FAQ page or contact us

 

The Not So Good 

A guide sounds good, but it can’t all be positive, right? Right. So what are the downsides of having a tour guide? 

  1. It’ll cost you extra. So, how much does a tour guide cost in Japan? That depends on where you want to go, how long you want to be there, and how many people you'll go with. Most of our Japan tours are charged per group, starting at around 107 USD for 4 hours to 590 USD for 8+ hours. Tour costs vary, as some include extra treats. Specialty tours like our Kaleidoscopic Kyoto experience cost 1495 USD per group, featuring a personal, award-winning photographer, and covering transport and entry costs. Day trips can cost more, as they can last up to 14 hours, so it's up to you and what you want your trip to look and feel like. 
  2. Getting stuck with a sour guide. Having your destination dreams crushed because you don't get along with a guide is a horrible way to start your trip. As kind and high-rated as our guides are, hiring a guide comes with the risk of clashing with their personality. Want to avoid that? Pick a guide that you share commonality with. GWG guides come from different backgrounds and age groups.
  3. You get a filtered experience. If you're craving a 100% unfiltered introduction to Japan, a guide will be a block. Guides want to show you the best of their country and act as a buffer for things they think you'll struggle with, which some might not consider a fully authentic experience.
  4. You lose some flexibility. We all expect a good time on our trips, but life happens. If something goes wrong, canceling your guided tour midway through or on the morning of the tour will be heartbreaking.

Travel Q&A: Is it easy to tour Japan on your own? 
This depends on how comfortable with Japan you are. If you're a newbie, you'll experience a bit of culture shock on your first tour. Transport systems within the city are vast, so it'll be hard to navigate, though the English signs help. Day-to-day customs and social interactions have a learning curve, so there is a fair amount of difficulty that comes with solo touring.

 

 

Okay, so we’ve weighed the options, but bullet points are cool, so let’s sum things up.  

It’s Time To Get A Guide If…

  • You’re nervous about the language barrier. Why stress yourself out on such an amazing journey? Let our bilingual guides do the heavy language lifting.
  • You don’t want the extra planning stress. Guides are ideal for travelers who want to relax and try new things, not search for tickets and reservations.
  • You want to learn as much as you can. Download your knowledge straight from the horse's mouth and experience the country in its most enjoyable form.

 

Speed Past Guides Like A Bullet Train If…

  • You're fluent in Japanese and looking to practice your skills. If this is your dream trip and you've been a long-time learner of Japanese, a guide will only get in the way of practicing.
  • You like to go with the flow. Goodbye plans, hello adventure! Your ideal trip looks like being dropped in the middle of a new city with nothing but Google Maps and a prayer.
  • You’re not big on interaction. You’re the type that likes to go it alone, and a guide would only make you feel pressured to perform and be more social.

Travel Q&A: Will I be safe in Japan?
Japan is one of the safest countries in the world, coming in 10th place according to the Global Peace Index, beating Switzerland, Canada, and Finland. Violent crimes, especially against tourists, are virtually nonexistent, so it's safe to tour most areas on your own, or with a guide.

 

Even Guides Have Guidelines: Dos & Don'ts When Touring With A Guide 

Alright, you might be ready for a guide, but you've never had one. Here are some tips to keep your experience positive. 

 

I Want A Guide, Now Show Me Some Tours! 

Alright, you've made up your mind. You’re getting a guide. Where do you start? Here are some favorites from our top destinations. 

Tokyo 

  • Personal Journey Through Tokyo - A guided tour curated to suit your age, interest, dislikes, and expectations! See the Tokyo you want to see, with 30 popular locations to choose from including the Zojo-Ji temple, Tsukiji market, Harajuku, and much more.

  • Must-See Tokyo Tour - Need a crash course in all things Tokyo? Try this greatest hits tour that features the Imperial Palace, the electrifying Akihabara town, and the Meiji Jingu Shrine.

Kyoto

  • Kyoto Sightseeing Dream - From the magnificent Golden Pavilion to the bustling Nishiki Market, this tour captures the heart of Kyoto all in one day. 

  • Customized Kyoto Half-Day Tour - Looking to fit in a lot of Kyoto in a little bit of time? This 4-hour tour features the city's highlights including the Arashiyama area, the Toji temple, and the Fushimi Inari shrine. 

Osaka 

  • Discover Osaka’s Highlights - This tour combines the best of Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara with stops at the Golden Pavilion, Nara Deer Park, and the Osaka temple. You can also check out Dotombori and the stunning Umeda sky tower. 

  • Introduction to Osaka Day Tour - There's no better place to start than with these Osaka delicacies. Who can say no to Kushikatu and Doteyaki lunch, a peaceful river cruise, and some sake?

Kamakura 

  • Kamakura’s Flowers - Soak in Japan's former capital filled with tales of Samurai culture, shrines, and serene temples. A calm introduction to such a historic city. 

  • Discover The Real Kamakura - If breathtaking mountainous scenery doesn't leave you speechless, the shrines will. Kamakura is home to some of the most beautiful hidden temples, and it's time to see them yourself.

 

Conclusion 

Ready to get your guide journey started? You can select a private tour that fits your fancy, or create something unique. Have a chat with our Japan private tour guides and start your trip the right way.

Gifu Tour Guide - Akiko W.

Akiko W.

5.00 / 5
(8 reviews)
Japan

Hello! My name is Akiko from Gifu prefecture. I am a National Government Licensed Guide Interpreter. I like going out with my family, talking with my friends over coffee at a cozy cafe, reading books, baking bread and cake when I have time. I passed the national tour guide test in 2017 and have worked as a guide since then. I have guided in Gifu city, Seki city, Takayama city, Shirakawago , Mino city and Nagoya city. I have lived in Gifu for more than forty years. Gifu prefecture is rich in nature so you can enjoy the rural atmosphere. Gifu city has a beautiful river 'Nagara river' and Mt.Kinka which has Gifu castle on the top. You can go up the mountain on foot or use a ropeway. The view from Gifu castle is so fantastic. At the foot of the mountain , there are many places to visit such as parks, a temple having a big image of Buddha, and a street preserving the historic atmosphere. At Nagara River, you can enjoy seeing a traditional way of fishing ‘cormorant fishing’ which is thought to have started 1300 years ago. Many cafes have unique service called 'morning service' in Gifu along with Aichi In the morning (until about ten thirty or eleven) when you order a cup of tea or coffee, they serve toast and salad ! Near Gifu park , you can find a nice Japanese style cafe where you enjoy good coffee and seeing a Japanese style garden. Seki city is a small city but so famous for its cutlery. At Japanese sword museum in Seki, you can see authentic Japanese swords! Mino city next to Seki city is well known for its hand made Japanese paper 'Hon minoshi' designated as intangible cultural asset by UNESCO . Until recently it was not easy to guide guests because of COVID-19 pandemic; however the situation is getting better. Some strict rules about COVID-19 have been lifted. Please visit Gifu. I am looking forward to seeing you. Please feel free to ask me when you need information about Gifu. Thank you for reading my introduction.                                                                                                                                 

Shimizu Tour Guide - Sayori H.

Sayori H.

5.00 / 5
(2 reviews)
Japan

Hello, I can show you the real Japan. You can taste, see and feel the country. I'd like to show the beautiful culture for you to experience. I can organize the day tour from Shimizu port for Cruise customers. Tea ceremony, strawberry picking experience, anything you are interested, I would love to help you plan your tour. I can communicate in both English and Japanese. I look forward to welcoming people from different parts of the world. Thank you                                                                                                                                 

Shiga Tour Guide - Koichi W.

Koichi W.

4.94 / 5
(51 reviews)
Japan

Hi! I'm Koichi. I was born in Osaka, I studied in Kyoto when I was a university student. Now I live in Shiga next to Kyoto. I am a national government licensed tour guide. I have been guiding about 160 groups over the past twelve months. I usually guide my customers mainly in Kansai region including Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Kobe and Shiga by public transportation systems. Well, I am curious about Japanese history, especially the history of Japan's ancient times since I was raised next to the world biggest mausoleum of the ancient Emperor called "Nintoku" in Sakai city Osaka which has just become one of the world cultural heritage sites. I dug out some ancient earthen ware vessels around there when I was a primary school student like the adventure archaeologist “Indiana Jones" (It’s our secret!!). That was my hobby. Now, one of my hobbies is outdoor activities such as mountaineering, kayaking, skiing and others. So I would like to take you to some good places where you can enjoy Japanese unique nature. I love to guide foreign visitors from all over the world. I think it is my calling or heavenly given job. Let's go and enjoy together! I hope to see you soon.                                                                                                                                 

Okinawa Main Island Tour Guide - Tateo U.

Tateo U.

4.99 / 5
(68 reviews)
Japan

My name is Tateo. I am officially registerd English tour guide and introducing about Okinawa's history,culture, and nature.I am elderly person but have gone through lots of expericences that happened during US occupation after WW2. For the example, change of monetary system(US dollar to Yen),Change of traffic regulation(driving vehicle from right to left).The reversion of Okinawa to main land Japan was biggest historical event.The US administered Okinawa for 27 years. As a result, thing were Americanized in many aspects. Historically, Okinawa was once independent nation until 1872.During Kingdum era, Okinawa actively traded with China, South Asia Countries, Korea, and Japan. In the end, our culture is quite differ much from main land Japan. For instance, architectural technique, daily customs, and culture are also unique. Okinawa is the only prefecture belong to subtropical climate zone. Even winter time, it's neither hot nor cold. People can enjoy marine sport all through the year.Canoeing, Kayaking, Diving, and Snorkeling are popular. Besides, beatiful white sand beaches and attractive coastline are abundant. Green sea water and blue sky have been lured people from all over the world. Traditional music and dance are worth seeing. Please visit Okinawa and enjoy extraordinary trip. I will be looking forward to seeing you soon.                                                                                                                                  

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