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Goodwill guides thoughts/recommendations?

Goodwill guides thoughts/recommendations?

Oct 10th, 2019, 02:12 PM
  #1  
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Goodwill guides thoughts/recommendations?

I've looked into the various organisations that offer goodwill guides in Japan and wanted to know if anyone had used them and if so what you thought of them and if you can recommend any?

We're a family of 4 arriving in Tokyo and thought a tour on our first day would be a great introduction to the city (we're staying in Asakusa but I think I'd like a tour guide for Akihabara so we can make sure we're seeing the child-friendly aspects!) and the country. Looking for a tour that can be individualised so the kids don't get exhausted keeping pace with a proscribed schedule.

I've found great reviews online for Tokyo Walking Tour but it costs a fair whack - is this an example of you get what you pay for?
mymatemarmite is offline  
Oct 10th, 2019, 06:39 PM
  #2  
 
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We used a good will guide in Kyoto, and we thought it was a bust. The guide was an older, retired guy that knew nothing about any of the temples we visited--he just read the signs to us, and he had us take him to a very expensive restaurant for lunch. Further, he proudly showed us his picture in uniform from WWII, did he not know we were the enemy?

Regarding Tokyo, you are taking a chance with any guide, paid or not. It is so easy to get around in Tokyo on the subways. With a little effort before you leave, ask for some suggestions here, and be sure to give the ages of your children, and everyone's interest.
CaliforniaLady is offline  
Oct 10th, 2019, 07:31 PM
  #3  
 
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We used a goodwill guide in Hokodate in Hokkaido. Both the guide and her husband were veterinarians and were wonderful hosts. We discussed by email ahead of time what we might like to see, and our group of six brought gifts from Hawaii for them. We had a wonderful day. The walking tour was the equivalent of $30 for the entire group. We did host the guides for lunch and paid for the streetcar and ropeway rides.
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Oct 10th, 2019, 07:49 PM
  #4  
kja
 
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I'm not sure who or what actually qualifies as a "Goodwill Guide", but FWIW, the Japanese National Tourism Organization coordinates free volunteer guides throughout Japan. These “Goodwill guides” – who are generally knowledgeable and happy to guide you in return for practicing their English – can be excellent, but it is definitely a bit of a luck-of-the-draw. My understanding is that you can communicate by email in advance to ensure that the plan meets your needs.
http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/arrange/tr...deservice.html

You pay any entrance fees and his/her meal if your time with the guide includes one. Do NOT tip these guides, or anyone else in Japan. My suggestion would be to make your needs regarding any meal (including price range and any particular dietary requirements or restrictions) very clear in advance.

I worked with only one, in Inuyama, and she was excellent.

Last edited by kja; Oct 10th, 2019 at 08:34 PM.
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Oct 10th, 2019, 08:32 PM
  #5  
 
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I had a very good Goodwill Guide in Kyoto, and a not so good one in Kanazawa.
thursdaysd is offline  
Oct 10th, 2019, 08:51 PM
  #6  
 
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Haven't used any myself but they get good reviews on TA.
tokyofreeguide.org
Mara is offline  
Oct 10th, 2019, 09:15 PM
  #7  
 
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What @kja said. We had a free guide around the Imperial Palace gardens from the tourist office in Hibiya (Tokyo) which was at a set time. You turn up and go with a group, in our case a group of two.

Another JNTO goodwill guide in Kanazawa was excellent value. At her suggestion we walked through the Samurai area to Omicho markets, visited a department store to pick up bento boxes for lunch at Kanazawa castle. We wandered via a few shrines and gardens, enjoying her easy conversation about all things Japan. We paid for the bento boxes and a few samples in Omicho market.

Book early if you decide to do this. No one was available in Kyoto three weeks in advance.
sartoric is offline  
Oct 11th, 2019, 12:03 AM
  #8  
 
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We just used a wonderful GG in Kanazawa. She was very knowledgeable and a delight to be with. As mentioned we worked out what we thought me like to see and our interests. We don’t use guides a lot, but generally we find they greatly enhance our knowledge and understanding. With Keiko we talked women’s issues among other relevant topics to us.
The photo is from our lunch with her.
We also have reserved a GG in Kyoto. He was recommended.

Last edited by yestravel; Oct 11th, 2019 at 12:06 AM. Reason: add photo
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Oct 11th, 2019, 12:12 AM
  #9  
kja
 
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To be clear:
I used an Goodwill guide only once, at Inuyama's Uraku-en. I hadn't reserved in advance -- she just happened to be finishing with others when I arrived. And she was wonderful!
kja is offline  
Oct 11th, 2019, 05:19 AM
  #10  
 
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Originally Posted by burta View Post
We used a goodwill guide in Hokodate in Hokkaido. Both the guide and her husband were veterinarians and were wonderful hosts. We discussed by email ahead of time what we might like to see, and our group of six brought gifts from Hawaii for them. We had a wonderful day. The walking tour was the equivalent of $30 for the entire group. We did host the guides for lunch and paid for the streetcar and ropeway rides.
We also used a GW guide in Hakodate in 2014 for around $30.00. Our experience was excellent. Atsuko is a huge baseball fan like us and to this day we chat from time to time, especially during baseball season.
jacketwatch is online now  
Oct 11th, 2019, 08:36 AM
  #11  
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Thanks everyone - I really love the idea of a Goodwill Guide because 'm assuming they'd be really into it in order to do it for free, and yes I've been through various organisation I found through JNTO. I'm hoping we can find someone who can give us an insight and especially with the children. I've emailed a few of the organisations to see if they can match us with someone. I guess if we do get put together with someone the communication we have between now and our trip means we should get a good sense of how helpful it's going to be!

Rather than starting a new thread, as an aside, can I ask for some help planning two of our days?

we have Ghibli tickets for 4pm one day so I thought we'd go to Kichijoji before for a walk around and late lunch, let the children scamper through Inokashira before getting to the museum. We're staying in Asakusa so any thoughts what we should do in the morning, preferably en route? Maybe stop by Koenji?

We have TeamLab tickets at 10am another day, thought we'd do sushi for breakfast at Tsukiji then head straight there, afterwards do a bit of Odaiba Seaside Park then the kids love taking water taxis so what would you recommend for the afternoon? I'm trying to not do journeys back and forth across Tokyo each day (although thought we'd do a day of trying to get in everything Akihabara, Shibuyu and Shijinku in one day!) I think I'm trying to break it down into:
day 1 - "modern" Kawaii Tokyo
day 2 - "traditional" Tokyo (Imperial Palace, gardens, shrines) - maybe swap these around so we have a more gentle introduction with jetlag!
day 3 - Ghibli and whatever else we can work around being on that side of the city
day 4 - day trip to Nikko
day 5 - Tsukiji, TeamLab...what next?

and then we head off to Miyajima....

Maybe a seperate thread is a better idea but kja by now I'm relying on you to reply to all my posts anyway!!!

Last edited by mymatemarmite; Oct 11th, 2019 at 08:40 AM. Reason: spelling mistakes!
mymatemarmite is offline  
Oct 11th, 2019, 08:39 AM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by yestravel View Post

We just used a wonderful GG in Kanazawa. She was very knowledgeable and a delight to be with. As mentioned we worked out what we thought me like to see and our interests. We donít use guides a lot, but generally we find they greatly enhance our knowledge and understanding. With Keiko we talked womenís issues among other relevant topics to us.
The photo is from our lunch with her.
We also have reserved a GG in Kyoto. He was recommended.
This is exactly what I'm hoping for and we don't normally use guides either when we travel but this is our first time in Asia and for the kids particularly I really want to give them a sense of the culture and people and history which I can read out of a book for them but isn't the same!

If you like your GG in Kyoto please share his details! I'm thinking about getting on for there too
mymatemarmite is offline  
Oct 11th, 2019, 07:01 PM
  #13  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by mymatemarmite
Maybe a seperate thread is a better idea but kja by now I'm relying on you to reply to all my posts anyway!!!
Seems that I'm about to disappoint you. Beyond agreeing that you would do well to plan your days so you don't cross the city unnecessarily, I really don't think I can help with specific day-to-day plans, particularly as I haven't ever travelled with children. I'd think the usual planning tips apply -- check opening hours, block time out on a grid, be sure to count transportation time and breaks, etc. Good luck!
kja is offline  
Oct 11th, 2019, 07:46 PM
  #14  
 
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How old are your children, and what gender? I do have some general thoughts:

1. Odaiba is an excellent idea for children. There is lots to do there, and you could easily spend a whole day. As you mentioned, be sure and take the boat over, as you can see the Tokyo skyline, and the ride is very tranquil.

2. Beware of eating sushi at the fish market. The lines are very long. Maybe you can just observe the fish auctions, and if the lines are long, find another place for breakfast.

3. The sword collection at the national museum is cool, and good for children.

4. The Akihabara electronics area is fascinating for children.

5. If your children are a bit older, then they might enjoy a tea ceremony.

6. Ramen is always good for children, and very tasty in Japan.

7. Baseball and sumo wrestling are good choices. We went to a sumo practice because there was no tournament when we visited, and it was fun to watch close up.

I do agree with kja, only you know your family. Get a copy of a subway map, and plan accordingly. You can do this on your own.
CaliforniaLady is offline  

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