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Find English Speaking Volunteer Guides around Nagoya and Aichi

Having an English-speaking guide in a country where you don’t speak the language can be invaluable.

That’s where volunteer guide organizations come in.

Volunteer guide organizations help residents connect with travelers to share their knowledge and love for their hometown. These guides are primarily amateurs, many of whom are retired, passionately offering their services for free while struggling to overcome the language barrier.

Here is a list of places around Nagoya and Aichi you can visit guided by a local volunteer guide.

Explore Many Corners Around Nagoya with a Volunteer Guide

Nagoya offers free guided tours at surprisingly many locations throughout the city. These tours are organized by only a hand full of organizations in the city.

Nagoya Castle

Nagoya Castle
Nagoya Castle, the landmark of Nagoya, image via @ellpcrative

Nagoya Castle is Nagoya’s most famous landmark, visited by the majority of foreign tourists.

Volunteer guides stand by every day at 13:00 at the East Gate of Nagoya Castle to guide visitors around the castle. During a roughly 2-hour tour, they share the city’s history and many interesting architectural features of the castle sprinkled with interesting anecdotes and stories of the many people who are connected to Nagoya’s most famous structure.

During Corona there might not be any English speaking guides available, we recommend to check with them for your desired dates.

Find out more about Nagoya Castle here.

Guide Organization Name: Aichi Goodwill Guides Network
Reservation Method: no reservation is required
Reservation Deadline: no deadline
Cost: Free
Minimum Participants: no minimum
Maximum Participants: no maximum
Languages Available: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese
Contact: guide-desk@aggn.jp
Website

Tokugawa Art Museum

Tokugawa Art Museum
The Tokugawa Art Museum, an impressive collection of treasures, image via@ellpcrative

The Tokugawa Art Museum is one of the best museums to visit in Nagoya about Japanese history and culture. It houses an impressive collection of swords and armor, tea ceremony utensils, Noh theater masks, related items, and books and scrolls that used to belong to the powerful Tokugawa Owari clan, the region’s leaders.

For those who enjoy reading, the museum has excellent English signage, but having the explanations of a guide for around 30 minutes in a private room can help put things in perspective and go deeper into local history.

Guide Organization Name: Volunteer Guides of Tokugawa Art Museum
Reservation Method: Online form or email (​​toiawase@tokugawa.or.jp)
Reservation Deadline: no fixed deadline
Cost: Free
Minimum Participants: no minimum
Maximum Participants: no maximum
Languages Available: English

Cultural Path

Cultural Path Futaba Museum
Futaba Museum along the cultural path, image via@ellpcrative

The cultural path in the Higashi Ward of Nagoya is the place you visit if you are interested in more recent history and architecture around the turn of the 20th century.

It used to be the residential area of the most affluent and influential people, including actresses and business owners.

Many houses are open to the public, but signage in English is minimal.

That’s where the guide volunteers come in. They will happily show you around and tell the stories of the residences and their famous inhabitants.

Guide Organization Name: Historical “CULTURAL PATH” Guide Volunteer at Higashi Ward, Nagoya City
Reservation Method: Online form or email (info@higashibgv.com)
Reservation Deadline: 1 month in advance
Cost: 100 yen per person
Minimum Participants: 5 people
Maximum Participants: no maximum
Languages Available: English
Website

Arimatsu

Arimatsu Town
Arimatsu town with its wooden buildings along the ancient Tokaido road

Arimatsu is a town along the ancient Tokaido road connecting Kyoto and Edo with most of its wooden shops and houses still intact.

It is also famous for its tie-dying technique called Arimatsu-Narumi Shibori.

The volunteer guides work mainly during special events such as the Arimatsu Festival and the Arimatsu Shibori Festival, but if you make a reservation they will be happy to guide you around this fascinating location.

Find out more about Arimatsu here.

Guide Organization Name: Arimatsu Annaibito no Kai 
Reservation Method: Email (xxx)
Reservation Deadline: 2 weeks in advance
Cost: 1000 yen for guide transportation
Minimum Participants: 2 people
Maximum Participants: no maximum
Languages Available: English

Other Parts of Nagoya

Locations around Nagoya where you can get a guided tour

For guided tours around other parts of Nagoya, you can reserve in advance with the Aichi Goodwill Guides Network.

Guided tours are available in the Osu Shopping Streets, Shirotori Garden, Tokugawa Garden & Tokugawa Art Museum, Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology, Atsuta Shrine, Arimatsu, Yagoto, the Cultural Path, SCMaglev Train Museum, and Noritake Garden.

Guide Organization Name: Aichi Goodwill Guides Network
Reservation Method: Online form or email (guide-desk@aggn.jp)
Reservation Deadline: 2 weeks in advance
Cost: Free
Minimum Participants: one person
Maximum Participants: no maximum
Languages Available: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese
Website

Volunteer Guides in Other Parts of Aichi Prefecture

Even outside of Nagoya, English speaking volunteer guides will be happy to guide you around lesser known areas of the Aichi Prefecture.

Handa

The Mizkan Museum in Handa, image via@ellpcrative

Aichi Prefecture’s city of vinegar, home to Mizkan one of the biggest producers of vinegar and condiments in Japan.

The volunteer guides will be happy to introduce you to the fascinating food culture of Handa by visiting the vinegar and sake museums, but also to the history and culture in general with visits to historical sites and museums.

Guide Organization Name: Chita Peninsula SGG Club
Reservation Method: email (sgg-1@ml.n-fukushi.ac.jp)
Reservation Deadline: 7 days in advance
Cost: free, pay necessary transportation and entry fees for guide
Minimum Participants: no minimum
Maximum Participants: no maximum
Languages Available: English
Website

Tokoname

The pottery path in Tokoname

Historically, one of the major producers of pottery in the country, Tokoname even today is proudly showing off its pottery history.

Together with a volunteer guide, you can explore the Pottery Path as well as pottery-focused museums and shopping opportunities.

Find out more about Tokoname here.

Guide Organization Name: Chita Peninsula SGG Club
Reservation Method: email (sgg-1@ml.n-fukushi.ac.jp)
Reservation Deadline: 7 days in advance
Cost: free, pay necessary transportation and entry fees for guide
Minimum Participants: no minimum
Maximum Participants: no maximum
Languages Available: English
Website

Komaki

A wooden phallus is paraded through the streets of Komaki during the Tagata Jinja Honen Matsuri

The volunteer guides of Komaki city will guide you around Komaki’s top sights including Mt. Komaki, where Oda Nobunaga built his first castle. 

The city also has two bizarre and intriguing religious sites. Tagata Jinja Shrine is known for its phallus festival, and Mamakannon Temple is popular with its Goddess of Mercy, realizing wishes for mothers who have difficulty lactating.

Regular guided tours occur during the Komaki Spring Festival and Autumn Festival and at the Tagata Jinja Honen Matsuri festival held on the 15th of March. At any other time of the year, you can make a reservation.

Guide Organization Name: Komaki Interpreter Volunteer Guide Group
Reservation Method: Email (noopy2476@yahoo.co.jp)
Reservation Deadline: 1 week in advance
Cost: Free
Minimum Participants: 2 people
Maximum Participants: no maximum
Languages Available: English
Website

Okazaki

Okazaki castle
Okazaki Castle in spring, image via@ellpcrative

Okazaki is most famous as the birthplace of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the unifier of Japan who founded the Tokugawa Shogunate, Okazaki castle with its beautiful park, and Hatcho Miso, fermented soybean paste.

The volunteer guides of Okazaki will be happy to guide you around the Okazaki park as well as other historic spots and shrines and temples around the city to tell the fascinating history of the city. 

To find out more about Okazaki read this article.

Guide Organization Name: Okazaki Tourist Guide Association
Reservation Method: email (info@okazaki-kanko.jp)
Reservation Deadline: 1 month in advance
Cost: Paid, contact for detailed information
Minimum Participants: no minimum
Maximum Participants: no maximum
Languages Available: English
Website

Inuyama

Inuyama Castle
Inuyama castle,image via@ellpcrative

Inuyama is a popular tourist destination only 30 minutes by train from Nagoya and the home of one of Japan’s last original castles with a charming castle town offering delicious street food.

The volunteer guides of Inuyama will be available on occasion at the entrance of Inuyama Castle or via prior reservation. They will guide you around the castle and introduce you to the fascinating history of the castle town.

Read more about Inuyama here.

Guide Organization Name: Inuyama Goodwill Guide
Reservation Method: email (guide_req@inuyamagoodwillguide.jp)
Reservation Deadline: no deadline
Cost: Free
Minimum Participants: no minimum
Maximum Participants: no maximum
Languages Available: English, German, French, Chinese, Korean
Website

Aichi Prefectural Ceramic Museum in Nagakute

Nagakute Ceremic Museum, image via Aichi Now

The Aichi Prefectural Ceramic Museum in Nagakute is a unique museum with a collection of pottery works from all over the world and special exhibitions several times per year. 

For those of you who are fascinated by pottery get a tour around the museum by one of the volunteer guides, to learn more about the fascinating connection and long history between Aichi and pottery. 

Guide Organization Name: Aichi Prefectural Ceramic Museum Volunteers
Reservation Method: email(touji@pref.aichi.lg.jp)
Reservation Deadline: 1 month in advance
Cost: Free
Minimum Participants: no minimum
Maximum Participants: no maximum
Languages Available: English
Website (Japanese only)

Oharu

The Myogenin Temple in Oharu, image via Aichi Now

Oharu is a little-known town of Aichi Prefecture, where not many foreign tourists venture. 

It is most known as the home of Myogenin Temple, known as Japan’s oldest medical facility specializing in ophthalmology. Even though no medical treatment is currently available there it is a fascinating place to visit.

The Oharu volunteer guides will be happy to tell you more about this unique and fascinating place as well as other aspects of Oharu’s history.

Guide Organization Name: NPO Pep Oharu Town Planning
Reservation Method: email (nymg@aqua.ocn.ne.jp)
Reservation Deadline: 1 week in advance
Cost: Free
Minimum Participants: 1 person
Maximum Participants: 20 people
Languages Available: English
Website (Japanese only)

Shinshiro

Horaiji Temple in Shinshiro, image via Japan Times

Shinshiro is one of the places with natural beauty in the Aichi prefecture. Hiking trails past shrines and temples surrounded by old forests and waterfalls, rice terraces, and hot spring resorts can all be found in this region.

The volunteer guides will be happy to guide you around one of Shinshiro’s most popular spots Mount Houraiji.

Guide Organization Name: Shinshiro Tourism Association
Reservation Method: email (info@Shinshirokankou.com)
Reservation Deadline: 1 month in advance
Cost: 3000 yen for 3 hours
Minimum Participants: 2 people
Maximum Participants: 10 people
Languages Available: English
Website (Japanese only)

Please contact the respective volunteer guide organizations with your questions or to book your private guided tour.

If you would like to be guided by a professional or are looking for culinary, or cultural experiences, make sure to check out our tours and experiences


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About the author

In love with Japan and its amazing food, Lena wants to share her passion with the world. Her goal is to make everyone interested in Nagoya, her adoptive home, online through her writing and offline through unique food tours.

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