Japan Tour Guide (JTG) is an online portal that aims to match volunteer Japanese guides with visitors coming to Japan.
Read about their tours put together for tourists by these friendly local guides in this regular column!
Lately, we received a request to guide Johannes, a tourist from Germany.
Since he has visited Japan multiple times, this time he wanted to experience every day life with the locals.
We created a guide plan that suited his wish.
The guides for this trip were Misaki and Takahiro, two university students that are Japan Tour Guide members.
We (Misaki and Takahiro) met up with Johannes at Nippori Station.
After introducing ourselves, we headed to our first destination of the day, Yanaka Ginza Shotengai.
Yanaka Ginza Shotengai is a shopping street that still has the atmosphere of Tokyo's yesteryear.
This shopping street is ideal for tabe-aruki, a Japanese term for “walking-and-eating”.
At Yanaka Ginza Shotengai, there are over 60 restaurants and shops with yummy street food. We first bought croquettes of mashed potatoes, a popular snack in the area, and walked the streets tabe-aruki style!
Our next stop was Ueno Park, one of Japan's oldest parks, which is only 15 minutes away from the Yanaka area by foot.
There are numerous facilities and touristic sites inside this spacious park, including Ueno Zoo, Kaneiji Temple and Toshogu Shrine, as well as many museums . This makes Ueno Park not only great for a relaxing stroll, but also a great destination for culture and art.
At Toshogu Shrine's chozuya -
a purification fountain where you clean your hands and mouth before entering a Japanese shrine - we taught Johannes how to perform this ritual.
You take one of the vessels to first wash your left hand, next wash your right hand and then rinse the mouth, but Johannes made a mistake and drank the water!
The water here is just to rinse, so be careful! (^o^)
At the Yushimatenmagu Shrine, there were a number of food stalls, so we had Johannes try out amazake, a sweet kind of sake.
With a doubtful face, Johannes tried out this peculiar drink, which despite its name, is actually alcohol free!
Since we wanted to show Johannes a Japanese university, we took him to Tokyo University, the highest ranked university of Japan.
Shibuya's Hachiko statue is very famous, but did you know that at Tokyo University, there is another statue that pictures the reunion of Hachiko and his owner?
Although they were never reunited in real life, this statue was made with the donations of many people to let them meet again. We are sure Hachiko is smiling in heaven right now!
For dinner, we went to a yakitori restaurant.
Although tourists will usually go to a more expensive yakitori restaurant, to give Johannes a real local experience, we took him to a very casual yakitori restaurant frequently visited by students like us.
The restaurant was full of Japanese students, with Johannes being the only foreigner.
Being able to experience local life like this, is what we think makes Japan Tour Guide special.
While having yakitori skewers hot from the charcoal grill, we had interesting conversations about our countries like real friends. We also wrote Johannes' name in kanji for him. Can you write your own name in kanji?
After the dinner, we took him back to the closest station from his hotel, and said goodbye.
That is just a small look into one of the many adventures you can have with Japan Tour Guide
We are looking forward to guiding you around the city and showing you the ins and outs of Japan!