KSGG Tour Guides share their wonderful knowledge of Japan with visitors from overseas. (Photo: KSGG)
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Kanagawa Goodwill Guide Club

KSGG: Grassroots Diplomacy at Its Finest

Not exactly sure what you would like to do when you come to Japan? Why not make use of the wonderful services of KSGG. The group of volunteers, established in 1989, seeks to offer Japan’s world-famous hospitality to visitors from overseas. What could be better than that?!

The Kanagawa Club is one of 84 nationwide. Besides offering free tours, they also provide language-tutoring assistance, culture classes, and support to foreign residents and students, as well as short-term visitors.

If you go to their attractive and easy to use website, you will find a list of tours that you can apply for—whatever catches your fancy! For instance, how about their 2.5-hour Yokohama Waterfront Tour? Or the fascinating 2-hour Exploring the History of Yokohama Tour? Or the 4-hourGraceful Kamakura (Green Tea) Tour? They also offer tours based in Kawasaki, and industrial tours that feature the best of Japanese high-tech wizardry! I signed up for a Kawasaki Tour and it all went very smoothly! Fees for the tours are minimal; just enough to cover travel expenses and so forth for tour leaders, and are clearly listed on the website. Their sister-club in Odawara-Hakone offers a number of beautiful seasonal tours. And indeed, on the website, also look for links to other clubs all over Japan, depending on where you might like to go.

The 200 club members come from all walks of life. Quite a few of them have backgrounds in business and engineering, and a large number of the female members are housewives. Many have reached retirement age and find real happiness in sharing the beauty of Japan and Japanese culture with foreign visitors. They take what they do quite seriously and diligently study as a group to better their own knowledge of Japan and this region. Most of them speak English, but there are also members who speak Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Chinese, Korean and Thai: Quite a collection!

Over the years, they have welcomed and shown great hospitality to visitors from America, Europe, South East Asia, China, Latin America and the Middle East. Most recently, they even assisted a couple from Iceland!

Although many of the people they lead on tours are individual tourists, many are groups of adult students here in Japan under JICA sponsored programs or technicians who are here under the auspices of AOTS. And twice a year, they assist students from the University of Virginia who are here via the school’s “Semester at Sea” program.

When the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami devastated northern Japan, the club received an outpouring of concerned emails from overseas—former partakers of the club’s programs—that expressed grief, worry and support for all of Japan in general, and for the club members they knew in particular. These very touching messages helped the club members realize that the love and respect they have shared with overseas visitors over the years has always been deeply appreciated.

You too will appreciate the kindness and hospitality of KSGG and its 200 members. Visit their website and apply for a tour.

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Larry Knipfing Author 9 years ago
This is a great free guide service that I have used before: Enoshima, Kamakura, Yokohama, Kawasaki!

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