Good English Walking Tours in Japan
September 25, 2014 11:50 AM   Subscribe

What are some good English-language walking/biking (i.e. not bus) tour operators in in Tokyo and Kyoto?

I'm going to be vacationing in Japan by myself for a little under two weeks. When I've previously traveled in Europe, I usually went one one or two of Sandeman's New Europe walking tours to get oriented and to also potentially meet people to hang out with. I'd like to do something similar while I'm in Japan.

I've already found what looks like the official tour operators. Has anyone had any experience with them? It seems a bit formal to me...with the appointments and 2.5:1 participant/guide ratio...
posted by cosmic.osmo to Travel & Transportation around Japan (9 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hike Japan has a good name and I can vouch that the guy who runs it is a very good egg.
posted by Grunyon at 11:59 AM on September 25, 2014


Here is a walking tour I enjoyed in Kyoto.
posted by Obscure Reference at 12:26 PM on September 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sorry, my link to Hike Japan was broken. Here it is again .
posted by Grunyon at 12:32 PM on September 25, 2014


Everything in Tokyo is a bit formal. You can bet on that. You can trust though that any of the official tour operators will be fine.

If you want a bit more informality, however, and you decide to branch out on your own, the Tokyo-Edo Museum will have an English-speaking tour guide and most tours will be just you and the guide (though since the number depends on who shows up when the tour begins).
posted by GoLikeHellMachine at 12:36 PM on September 25, 2014


Are there any tours that tend to have larger groups? Like say 10-15+ people?
posted by cosmic.osmo at 3:12 PM on September 25, 2014


Can't vouch for them personally, but Back Streets seems good, or at least friendly on Twitter. The English language docents at Edo-Tokyo Museum are good. The Japan Federation of Guides is a good source even if their website looks clunky. If you want a custom tour from a certified bilingual guide, memail me, and I'll put you in touch with Mrs Gotanda.
posted by Gotanda at 4:11 PM on September 25, 2014


+1 for obscure reference's suggestion for Kyoto. I did Johnny's walking tour about 8 years ago now and it was a highlight of the trip!
posted by nothing too obvious at 8:49 PM on September 25, 2014


And I should add - there were around 20 people on the tour I was on
posted by nothing too obvious at 3:43 AM on September 26, 2014


I ended up taking two guided tours on my trip:

1. A Tokyo SGG guided tour of Ueno park. The volunteer guide was an older Japanese woman. The tour was informative, but there were only four people in the group I was with.

2. The Johnnie Hillwalker tour recommended above. I liked it and it was quite informative. However, even though there were quite a few people on it, most of them seemed to be about my parents' age and very few were of the backpacker type.

Neither of them would have really worked to meet other travelers to hang out with past the tour, in the way the Sandeman's New Europe tours sometimes can.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 4:59 PM on October 20, 2014


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