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Question on korea/japan

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Hi all

My wife and I will be doing a 12 day trip to Korea and Japan. We will be visitng Seoul , Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto. This is the first trip abroad where we will not be speaking the local language. We speak mandarin and English. We generally dislike tours but I was thinking about hiring a private guide for perhaps a few of the days. Just wondering based on others experiences if language will be an issue with transportation, going to the local food joints, ordering etc. Thank you!

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