I was wandering through Harajuku on the weekend, camera in hand, looking to take snaps among the crowds of "beautiful people" there for the JapanVisitor Google+ "Kawaii ne!" collection.
Standing on the sidewalk across the road from Harajuku Station was a pair of guys each holding a bright placard marked "Volunteer," "Do you need help?, "Ask anything - we can help you."
|Two Japan Tour Guide volunteers in Harajuku, Tokyo.|
Curious to learn more, I approached them and chatted for a few minutes. They were enthusiastic, courteous, and spoke very good English. They were university students, and part of the Japan Tour Guide collective.
"The only way to experience the true Japan is through locals" is the catch cry of the JapanTourGuide website. The concept is of "tourist-guide matching." The tourist registers on the very nicely designed, simply laid-out website, agrees to the terms and conditions, provides some personal information, and specifies the place and time he or she would like a guide for. The organization then does its best to match the tourist's needs with an appropriate guide.
Contact is then made between the organization and the soon-to-be sightseer through Facebook and a plan is mutually framed in preparation for the visit.
JapanTourGuide is basically a free service, so those who use it are expected to respect that. It provides a unique opportunity to get to know Japan at a personal level for visitors who probably don't know anyone in Japan.
What better way to get to know the true Japan than to find out about the history, culture and sights of Japan in the company of a local?
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