Free Tour Guides in Kyoto: Good Samaritan Club
Good Samaritan Club have been offering tours since 1961. is made up of volunteer university students from the Kyoto area, and they have been offering tours since 1961. The volunteers are willing to help you plan your personalized tour. Tour reservations can be made from one month and three days prior to your intended tour date. Don’t forget to check their Facebook page for more information about Kyoto and their tours!
Goodwill Guide on Kyoto Handicraft & Historical Sites (GGKH)
GGKH tours focuses on handicraft and historical sites in Kyoto. The volunteers are willing to show you the discoveries of the ancient capital. They offer visits to the Kyoto Museum of Traditional crafts, a kimono dyeing workshop and many more. You can come up with a list of places you are interested in going and the volunteers will help you plan the tour. Tours are available in English, Chinese, French and Thai. Reservations need to be made two weeks in advance.
Kadeko SGG Kansai
Kadeko is the Volunteer Guide Association of Kansai Traditional Handicrafts, so their tours focus on traditional crafts in the area. You can uncover such traditions as doll making, sake brewing and textile work. Furthermore, you might be able to participate in some workshops and create your own masterpiece!
Kyoto Free Guide
Kyoto Free Guide offers free tour guides in Kyoto (excluding expenses) to individuals and small groups. Besides English, there are also French and Italian-speaking volunteers. For a fee they also offer tours for large groups. You must arrange tours in advance. Visit their Facebook page for examples of tour routes and more photos of the tour.
Kyoto Free Walking Tour
The name says it all. An English-speaking guide will take you on a 2-2.5 hour walking tour around Kyoto. As part of the tour, you will be visiting Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. Afterwards, there’s also a chance to stop by famous geisha district, Gion. They offer tours everyday and you don’t need to make a reservation for this tour. One thing to keep in mind is that the tour will only happen if there’s one person pressing “going” at the Facebook event page before the day. Don’t forget to confirm your participation if you are interested in this tour!
Official Kyoto Greeters
This volunteer organization was started by students at Kyoto University. They aren’t professional guides, but rather “local friends” who can talk to you about local history, popular sightseeing spots, etc. If you don’t really know any Japanese people, but would like to talk to one about their lives and experiences, this is a great group to meet! Please apply at least a week in advance.
Sakura Volunteer Guide Club
Sakura Volunteer Guide Club has been showing tourists not only around Kyoto, but also Shiga and Nara since 2004. Guiding hours are from 9am-5pm everyday. Reservations need to be made at least two weeks before your designated tour date. Take advantage of their great tours!
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