Volunteer Guides to take you around Japan

SGG (Systematized Goodwill Guide) clubs are nation-wide volunteer guide organizations. Using foreign languages, such as English, foreigner-friendly Japanese guides who love inter-cultural exchanges will offer you a deep introduction to local cultures and history as known only by local people. SGG are the ideal partners if your goal is a rewarding and enjoyable journey in Japan.

A day in the life of an SGG tour!

Our foreign staff participated in the “TOKYO SGG CLUB” tour to better understand the work of a volunteer tour guide. It’s an autumn afternoon, and a lady is standing near a “Free Volunteer Guide” signboard in Tokyo’s Ueno Park. She is Ms. Kumiko Ogawa, the TOKYO SGG CLUB guide. A young western man soon comes along and takes a strong interest in the signboard. He begins talking to the guide, and says that he is a Spanish man living in London who has come to Japan to do volunteer work. And this is how a tour of Ueno begins.

The guide and the young Spanish man slowly walk around Ueno Park for two hours. She politely explains the history of Ueno and Japanese culture while going around the temples, shrines and museums. Ueno was once owned by the Tokugawa clan, the shoguns’ family in the Edo Period, but the Tokugawa Shogunate was defeated in a civil war towards the end of that era. Ueno was one of the battlefields then, and it became Japan’s first public park after the end of the war and thus the downfall of the Tokugawa Shogunate, which is why there are so many cultural relics of the Tokugawas in Ueno Park. Even our foreign staff who live in Japan didn’t know that! When visiting a temple with the young Spanish man, the guide talks about votive pictures, fortune papers and manners when visiting shrines and temples. The young man is really happy with his unexpectedly rewarding trip, and, with a big grin, he takes lots of photographs to remember it by.

Introducing the TOKYO SGG CLUB

The TOKYO SGG CLUB has 130 members. Tours are conducted in places like Ueno, Asakusa and Tsukiji. The hospitable guides will make your trip enjoyable, and you will be left thinking, “Tokyo was a lot of fun” and “Let’s go to Japan again!”

SGG’s message to foreign tourists: Japan is a safe, beautiful and tourist-friendly country. Please come and use our service. It’s not only for tours. We also offer simple, easy-to-understand and informative answers to questions that you won’t find in guidebooks. Get the most from Japan!

Address: 2-18-9, Kaminarimon, Taito-ku, Tokyo, c/o Asakusa Cultural & Sightseeing Center
Tel.: 03-6280-6710

SGG clubs offer many additional interpretation and guide services in other areas of Japan. Please try it out when visiting Japan!

Utsunomiya SGG Club

Utsunomiya is located north of Tokyo, and can be reached by Shinkansen in less than one hour. This area has hot springs and World Heritage areas of natural beauty in places like Nikko. Utsunomiya SGG Club will guide you around Tochigi Prefecture, starting from Utsunomiya Station and Nikko Station. We conduct guided tours around Utsunomiya City, as well as Nikko Toshogu Shrine and Oku-Nikko (Lake Chuzenji and Kegon-no-taki Falls). We provide you with a hearty welcome and first-class hospitality. Please come and visit World Cultural Heritage shrines and temples in Nikko, and enjoy the beauty of nature together with us.

Contact:keity_tera@fb4.so-net.ne.jp (Keiko Terakado)

Inuyama Goodwill Guide

Inuyama is a historical castle city, located 30 minutes from Nagoya by train. It has been called the “Little Kyoto of Owari (the old name for western Aichi Prefecture)”. The Inuyama Goodwill Guide offers visitors to Inuyama Castle a narrated guide inside the castle and a tour around the castle area. If you book in advance, you can also be shown Inuyama City, Ukai (cormorant fishing) on River Kiso, the Japanese Rhine, Meiji-mura and more. Experience the culture of Japan in historic Inuyama, and observe the beauty of Japanese nature throughout four seasons. We put our heart into our guided tours as we want to pass on an interest in Japanese culture and history.

Contact:inuyamagoodwillguide@gmail.com

Kanazawa Goodwill Guide Network

“Welcome to Kanazawa!” Kanazawa is a central city in Ishikawa Prefecture in the middle of Japan. Here, you will find Kenroku-en Garden, one of the three great gardens of Japan, and prosperous cottage industries, such as dyed goods and earthenware items. As well as offering tourist information in Kanazawa Station, Kanazawa Goodwill Guide provides guidance around Kanazawa Castle, Kenroku-en Garden, and, if booked in advance, the city and suburbs. Our tours help you enjoy and understand culture, and arts and crafts on the streets of Kanazawa, which are full of history and tradition. The delicious Kanazawa cuisine uses the freshest ingredients. Please come and enjoy the endlessly fascinating city of Kanazawa!

Address: Kanazawa Hyakubangai, 1-1Kinosinbo, Kanazawa, Ishikawa
Tel.: 076-232-3933
E-mail: kggn@po4.nsk.ne.jp

Kanagawa SGG Club

Located south of Tokyo, easy access to Kanagawa prefecture means it can be enjoyed on a day trip. It’s a popular tourist destination, with such places as the port town of Yokohama, and the ancient capital of Kamakura. Kanagawa SGG Club has prepared a number of sightseeing courses in Yokohama, Kamakura and Kawasaki. We welcome everyone who comes to Japan with a spirit of international goodwill to make your visit pleasant and successful. Our goal is to pass on something about the spirit and lifestyle of Japanese people in addition to providing tourist information.

Impressions of an American family who participated in the Kamakura tour:
“Thank you so much for your Kamakura tour. We learned a lot about Japanese history and culture. We really enjoy the time that you spent with us in Kamakura. Let us know when you visit California, we can show you around.”

Contact:ksgg_guide@yahoo.co.jp

This is only a small part of the SGG Club activities going on throughout the country. As the languages offered in addition to English, and the rules and application methods for using the volunteer guide service vary by organization, please consult the list below and contact the relevant SGG Clubs for more details. Please be aware that although the service is free of charge, in general, the guide’s travel expenses and admissions fees, as well as the cost for any meals eaten together, will be charged.