Japan – like a local!
Ever heard of “Goodwill Ambassadors”? Neither had I until I did a welcome home call to a couple of my clients last week.
If you are adventurous or if you are fed up with paying for excursions on the ships, then this could be the perfect solution for you.
Goodwill Ambassadors, also known as “Volunteer Guides”, are local guides who want to meet tourists to practice their language skills on or who just want to showcase their country.
They are equipped with a pass that grants them free entry to most attractions and no payment is expected from you other than what is needed to cover transport costs and possibly a meal. Sometimes a small gift is appreciated and once you know who your guide will be it is possible to look at their background history to get a sense of what gift would be suitable. My clients guide was an avid painter so they took a small book on English painters for them and a small palette of acrylics. For another guide they took some Scottish Shortbread.
My clients had organised tours in Nagasaki and Hiroshima and had amazing guides of which one was a former teacher of English. All were passionate about their country and gave a personalized service above what you would get on a normal tour.
Arranging for a Guide
Most clubs will have an email or contact form on their website, and many will ask to be notified at least 2 weeks before your arrival to make the arrangement.
As it is on a voluntary basis and depends on member availability, it is not definite that your request will be successful.
The process is slightly different for each club – if they have a website, check it out for specific requirements. However, generally it works like this:
Select a club
Submit a request via their website or email (you do this for each club individually):
Include your date and time of arrival, method of arrival (ship name and terminal), number of passengers and preferred itinerary if any.
Wait for a response. A club spokesperson will reply to say they have received your request and are broadcasting it out to their members.
A club spokesperson will notify you if the request has been successfully matched with a volunteer guide, and will forward you his or her contact together with meeting details.
List of Volunteer Guide Clubs in Japan
This list of 80+ clubs cover most of Japan, including the Hokkaido, Tohoku and Kanto regions.
I am sure that using a Goodwill Ambassador will enrich your travel experience no end and whats more you may even make new friends whilst doing it!!