If you’ve ever been to Japan, you know it’s one of the most amazing countries in the world. It’s clean and safe, and people are so polite it’s remarkable. However, the most challenging part of Japan (for me, at least) is finding locals outside of the hospitality industry that speak English—or, more likely, that will be comfortable speaking English. Supposedly English is taught in school but many Japanese aren’t comfortable speaking English out of a fear of offending anyone.
On my first visit to Japan in 2004, I learned about an incredible service the country offers: Goodwill Guides. These guides are free for tourists, and the JNTO (Japan National Tourist Organization) recommends them. In Japan there’s no tipping so you don’t even have to tip. In most cases you’ll need to arrange well in advance (often three weeks) and pay for the guide’s transportation and meals while they’re with you, but that’s it.
The Goodwill Guides are volunteers, and usually retirees or students. My guide was amazing. We spent about eight hours together and he took me all over Osaka to places I would’ve never found on my own (here’s my 2004 story). We kept in touch for years after. He even sent me a Christmas card!
The website that has the list of Goodwill Guides (this one) is not that easy to navigate so it’s best to do a Control-F on your keyboard and search for the city you’re visiting. There’s usually more than one per location, so keep looking. Some of the guides will even pick you up at the airport!
- A Great App for Travelers to Japan
- 10 Things to Do in Japan’s Chubu Region
- 10 Things to Do in Tokushima, Japan
- One Day in Tokyo, Japan
- My Quick Trip to Tokyo
Want even more travel tips? Sign up here for the Daily Travel Tip newsletter! Just fill in your email address and check the Daily Travel Tip box—and you’ll have Johnny’s best tips, straight to your inbox each day!
If you already subscribe to our weekly newsletter, you can sign up on the same page. Just fill in your email and check the Daily Travel Tip box on the same page and you’ll receive an email with a link to update your JohnnyJet.com preferences. On that page, just click the Daily Travel Tip box and Update Profile.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered. Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.