© 2018 by Japan Culture Guide Ken Oka

  • facebook
  • Instagram - Japan Culture Guide

How to find a quality Private Tour Guide in Tokyo

Are you planning to visit Tokyo in your next vacation? Good idea! Tokyo is an exciting huge city with a mixture of both modern and traditional culture. If you like to learn and see things that you would never find in a Lonely Planet or Michelin Guide or online, it is a good choice to hire a private tour guide. It may seem to be luxurious, in fact it should be worth the cost. But the problem is, how to find a quality tour guide especially in Tokyo? Below are a few pieces of advice to this question.

1.   Choose a licensed guide

Under a Japanese law, all the guides were required to obtain an official Government license as a Guide Interpreter by passing the examination conducted by the government until recently. Though this law has been mitigated and guiding service is allowed without the license now, you should still think it is essential for good guides to have national guide license. This is a minimum requirement. Some dubious people intentionally use the word "Inbound guide" as it does not necessarily mean licensed guide. If you hire the guide who has no license, even minimum quality (knowledge about Japanese history, geography, sightseeing spots and general issues) is not guaranteed. See if the guide display his certificate copy or disclose his certificate number on the website, it is obvious. Otherwise check if the guide registers him/herself in any guide association bodies like JGA (Japan Guide association) or JFG (Japan Federation of Certified Guides) as a member. They allow only government licensed guides to register.

2.  Local guide should come from the place

A local guide should be an expat for the place one guides. Tokyo guide must know the old and new about Tokyo, understand the feelings and sense of Tokyo people in addition to popular landmarks in the city, therefore the number of years one has lived in Tokyo is very important. Ideally, Tokyo guide is expected to be born and grow up in Tokyo, then naturally wears Tokyo’s culture. As is the case with this, if you visit Kyoto, it is recommended to hire the guide who comes from Kyoto. Normally people have special love and passion for their hometowns.

3.  Share your thoughts and wishes with a guide

Even if your prospective guide has a lot of knowledge about Tokyo, it is not enough to judge whether he/she is a good guide for you. You should communicate with the guide well before your tour and share your thoughts, concerns, wishes and desires with him/her. If you have a particular area of interest, you directly tell it to the guide and see the reaction. Be careful, most of guide matching sites do not allow direct communication between a guide and a guest but through a platformer’s system only.

Lastly, the most important element to make a good guide is personality. Knowledge is indispensable but we do not like to listen only a lecture or information session in the tour. In a recent modern, technology-driven society, we want deeply for personal touch. You judge by yourself what is more important for you, knowledge and experience or personality and socialization. Look at a guide’s profile to know his/her philosophy, guiding policy and socialization, in order to know if the guide has a good chemistry with you.