Japan’s FREE, Friendly, and Knowledgeable Guides
The volunteer guides can range from retired executives who have spent considerable time in the United States, to young people who are practicing their English or studying tourism in local universities. Based on our experiences, you will certainly get more out of these tours than you will out of the shore excursions and tours booked through cruise ships and hotels. You should book your tours through city-based volunteer guide organizations 30-60 days before starting your tour. You communicate with the guides assigned to you by email to let them know what kinds of activities and sites that are most appealing to you. Or, you can tell them that you will place yourselves in their hands and leave planning the day completely up to them. Just Google "Japan Volunteer Guides" and follow up with the organizations in which you're most interested.
Most groups focus on the region or city in which their guides live. Don't look to most travel websites guidebooks to recommend volunteer guide organizations. The whole idea of their services is that no one makes money on these tours. Most guides tell you that they hope their tours will foster understanding and appreciation between the guides, their guests, and the city they love.