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Tipping our free local tour guide in Tokyo?

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We have arranged to have a local guide for one day in Tokyo.  This is a free service, other than to pay for his transportation, entrance fees, and lunch.  How do we thank our guide.  Do we tip him or bring him a gift?  We don’t want to offend him.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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Thanks I’ll do that.  I am using CTW SGG.  I set it up months ago.  They like lots of lead time to set up the tour itinerary.

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Japan is a no tipping country. A small gift from your country would be appreciated, but do some research on this. Giving and receiving gifts in Japan is an art form.

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We have used goodwill guides a lot over the years and I have frequently recommended them here on cc.

I will post the link here however will address the question re gifts.

We always bring a small gift from Australia however be aware to bring something small and practical.

Key chain, pen set, coin purse etc as their homes are so small that to give anything big is just not a practical gift.  Once we know who are guide is I ask if they have children /grandchildren and will bring small kangaroo, koala, pencils for the children.  Very small, the little clip on type or just  small 6" max.    

The Japanese school kids including high school love to dangle things off their school bags.  Its not unusual for a school bag to have a dozen or more things dangling.   My daughter spent a year as a rotary exchange student in Japan and it was the big thing to have and exchange key chains with other exchanged students from other countries.  They would attach them to the Rotary blazer.

I can't recommend the goodwill guide service highly enough.  Nothing better than spending a day with a true local, often they are uni students studying english but also homemakers, buniness people, retired people and we have even had a uni professor.   Book a guide as far ahead as you can.

https://www.japan.travel/en/plan/list-of-volunteer-guides/

 

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No no no tipping. It will be offensive although the guide will always always be polite in declining the tip. 

 

Japan is a gift giving culture so as someone mentioned above, a small, small, thoughtful gift representing in some small way where you come from would probably be a nice gesture. Small for you to pack and small for them to carry, keep or whatever. Maybe even a little postcard sized watercolor painting or photograph of your home town or city? That sort of thing. 

 

Many of the great people doing the tours are doing so as a way to master their English skills. You’ll probably find that their English is already quite good. Nevertheless, improvement is important to students, especially those going to business or advanced sciences and other technical or cross cultural disciplines. The guides will thus possibly have been “tipped” by virtue of being able to converse with you as native speakers. 

 

Enjoy your visit, your tour and not having to hand out cash for once! Find something to share and exchange that tells a bit about you or your part of the globe. 😊 You’ll probably end up with new friends in Japan. I did. 

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