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    What to look for in a Tokyo tour guide: English-speaking, native language skills, and a true passion for the city's secrets

    By Hana Furuhashi

    June 15, 2023

    What to look for in a Tokyo tour guide: English-speakin

    Most of us have a pretty good idea of what we are looking for when we embark on a new travel adventure.

    Are you looking to see the main hotspots that your destination is known for?
    Are you a total foodie and want to immerse yourself in the local cuisine scene?
    Are rest and relaxation your main goal for this vacation?
    Or...are you someone who can't wait to find all the little secret spots in a new locale...those places that only the locals know about and rarely a foreigner finds?

    If you fall into this last category, then exploring a city with a local guide is an absolute must.
    While the main hotspots may offer their own charm and allure, there's something truly magical about delving into the hidden corners and off-the-beaten-path treasures of a new and foreign destination. doesn't have to be intimidating or exhausting! Travel itself can be overwhelming, particularly when you journey to a place that you don't know...where the customs are different, the food is foreign and even the language may make it hard to communicate with others.

    But all of this can be made much more simple and much more rewarding when you choose to let a knowledgeable local guide help you navigate your course...a local private tour guide who holds the keys to unlocking the city's best-kept secrets.
    When you embark on an itinerary with a local private tour guide, you open yourself up to a world of possibilities.

    A local private guide will have an innate understanding of their city's pulse, its hidden gems, and its most authentic experiences. They can take you beyond the guidebooks and tourist traps, leading you to tucked-away neighborhoods, undiscovered eateries, and enchanting local haunts. These are the places that only the locals know about, where you can truly immerse yourself in the city's culture and way of life.

    • Tokyo: seeing the city through a local private tour guide's eyes
    • Journey with me to Tokyo's sights less seen
    • The hidden gems of Tokyo: some (truly unique!) must-sees that you'll most likely miss without a local Tokyo private tour guide
    • Your trip to you experience it is up to you!


    Tokyo: seeing the city through a local private tour guide's eyes

    Private tour guides

    If you are looking for a place to travel that is as exotic as it is eclectic, where tradition and the modern world harmoniously coexist, look no further than the city of Tokyo.

    As the most populous city in the world and the capital of Japan, Tokyo offers a unique blend of ancient traditions and cutting-edge innovation that have wowed people for centuries and continue to be one of the most coveted spots to travel to in the world. With well over 20 million people visiting this city every year, it's no surprise that it holds treasures that appeal to visitors across the world.

    From important Japanese history sights like the Sensoji Temple and the Imperial Palace to central Tokyo and popular shopping streets like Omotesando and Yanaka Ginza, there is a great tour waiting for everyone in this city of a thousand interests. But - to truly unlock the secret Tokyo highlights that are unique to this city, embarking on a private tour that is guided by a knowledgeable local tour guide is going to show you a side of the city that few see.

    Journey with me to Tokyo's sights less seen

    Exploring Tokyo's hidden gems

    As a local tour guide for City Unscripted, I can help you to delve beyond the surface day trips that most of the commercial tour guides in Tokyo will take you to see. Discovering Tokyo's hidden gems has become a passion of mine, from tucked-away neighborhoods and quaint eateries to offbeat attractions and cultural experiences. Every City Unscripted tour guide is a local and will end up feeling more like a friend than a professional.

    My personal insights and stories about this city that I have been lucky enough to call home will help you develop a deeper appreciation for Tokyo's rich history, vibrant culture, and the daily lives of its residents.
    All while we make this vacation one you will never forget!

    Leave the well-trodden tourist paths behind and join me (or another City Unscripted local tour guide) while we unlock the true essence of Tokyo, away from the crowds and instead next to the locals.

    Let me - and the other locals - show you this city's true soul.

    The hidden gems of Tokyo: some (truly unique!) must-sees that you'll most likely miss without a local Tokyo private tour guide

    Unique hidden gems

    Tokyo is a city of endless discoveries, where every street corner holds the potential for something extraordinary, and every new neighborhood has a pulse all its own. However, without the guidance of a knowledgeable local tour guide, it's easy to miss the most marvelous of spots. These special spots are often tucked away in narrow alleyways, concealed behind unassuming facades, or known only to the locals.

    Not only that but - though Tokyoites tend to be very friendly and respectful of their foreign guests, there are certain nuances and cultural norms that may not be immediately apparent to visitors. Japan is a very welcoming country and visitors are often amazed at how polite, courteous, and gracious the Japanese society is. Still, most first-timers may experience a bit more culture shock than they planned on in a city as cosmopolitan as Tokyo.

    Remember...even though Tokyo is full of diverse cultures, there are still many unspoken rules on what to do and how to behave (particularly in public) which are unique to this country. Without a local private guide, you might unintentionally find yourself unknowingly crossing cultural boundaries or missing out on important etiquette. You will also miss out on some of the most spectacular parts of this city without even knowing they exist.

    Here are just a handful of my favorite places, events, and things to do that will either be missed or not fully understood without one of our local guides to help you have the authentic Tokyo experience you're looking for!

    The  hidden izakayas and yokocho alleys are a must-visi

    Hidden Izakayas and Yokocho Alleys:

    When the sun sets and Tokyo's neon lights come on, a whole new side of the city reveals itself. For those seeking an authentic and immersive nightlife experience, the hidden izakayas and yokocho alleys are a must-visit. These tucked-away gems offer a glimpse into the heart of Japanese socializing and culinary traditions. What makes these spots truly special is the authentic experience they offer. With a local guide like me by your side, you'll have access to the best-kept secrets and insider knowledge. 

    The world-famous Tsukiji Outer Market

     Local Food Markets:

    When it comes to experiencing the vibrant culinary scene of Tokyo, there's no better place to start than the local food markets. These bustling hubs of gastronomic delights offer a sensory feast of sights, sounds, and aromas that will leave you craving for more. From the world-famous Tsukiji Outer Market to the hidden gem of Ota Market, exploring these lively marketplaces with a local guide is an absolute game-changer. 

    I will lead you through the maze of stalls, introducing you to seasonal fruits, vegetables, and specialty products, while sharing stories about the local food culture. From sampling traditional snacks to discovering unique culinary treasures, both these markets offer a glimpse into the authentic flavors of Tokyo that are often overlooked by visitors.

    Experience  different ceremonial performances

    Local Festivals (Matsuri):

    Immersing yourself in the vibrant and exhilarating atmosphere of a local festival (matsuri) in Tokyo is an experience like no other. These festive celebrations are deeply rooted in Japanese culture, showcasing a fusion of ancient traditions and modern revelry. To truly understand and appreciate the significance of these events, having a local guide by your side is invaluable.

     I will not only help you navigate the bustling crowds and intricate festival rituals but also provide insights into the historical and cultural background of each festival. I can explain the meaning behind the vibrant costumes, the significance of different ceremonial performances, and the symbolic rituals that take place during the event. I hope when we are done you will gain a deeper appreciation for the traditions and customs that have been passed down for generations in Japan.

    Japans rich cultural heritage

    Traditional Arts Performances:

    Delving into Tokyo's traditional arts scene is a captivating journey that allows you to witness the beauty and elegance of Japan's cultural heritage. While famous performances like Kabuki and Noh are widely known, there are lesser-known gems waiting to be discovered. Together we can explore traditional arts performances like Rakugo (comedic storytelling), Edo Daikagura (traditional juggling), and Shamisen concerts that offer a unique glimpse into Japan's rich artistic traditions.

    Explore charming suburban neighborhoods

    Suburban Neighborhoods:

    While Tokyo is known for its bustling cityscape, there are serene and charming suburban neighborhoods that offer a different side of the city. Yanaka, with its winding streets and traditional architecture, offers a glimpse into old Tokyo. Koenji, a bohemian neighborhood known for its vibrant arts and music scene, beckons creative souls. Shimokitazawa, often described as Tokyo's hipster enclave, is a treasure trove of thrift shops, independent theaters, and cozy cafes. 

    Exploring one or more of these neighborhoods with me or another local City Unscripted guide is a gateway to hidden charms and off-the-beaten-path experiences. Whether you want to wander the historic streets of Yanaka, embrace the artistic vibe of Koenji, or soak up the hipster atmosphere in Shimokitazawa, one of us can serve as your private tour guide with insider knowledge, personal anecdotes, and recommendations tailored to your interests.

    Experience  a tea ceremony with a local guide by your s

    The Art of Japanese Tea:

    Tea ceremonies hold a special place in Japanese culture and symbolize grace, harmony, and mindfulness. To truly appreciate the artistry and intricacies of this traditional practice, experiencing a tea ceremony with a local guide by your side is going to be a much more remarkable experience. I will lead you through the world of Japanese tea ceremonies, providing insights into the rich history, the cultural significance, and the meticulous rituals involved.

    I can introduce you to tea houses that are tucked away in serene corners of Tokyo, where we will step into a tranquil realm far removed from the bustling cityscape. While together, you will learn the proper etiquette of tea drinking, from the art of bowing to the delicate handling of tea utensils. I can introduce you to tea houses that are tucked away in serene corners of Tokyo, where we will step into a tranquil realm far removed from the bustling cityscape. While together, you will learn the proper etiquette of tea drinking, from the art of bowing to the delicate handling of tea utensils.

    Cat cafes

    Themed Cafes and Bars:

    Tokyo is renowned for its eclectic array of themed cafes and bars, offering a whimsical and immersive experience like no other. With the guidance of me or another City Unscripted local, you can embark on a delightful adventure through these extraordinary establishments that cater to all sorts of interests. One popular genre of themed cafes is the maid cafe, where you'll be transported into a world of kawaii (cuteness) and hospitality. 

    If you're an animal lover, Tokyo's cat cafes and hedgehog cafes will capture your heart. And whether you're a fan of anime, manga, gaming, or simply looking for a unique experience, these themed establishments are a testament to Tokyo's vibrant subculture and its dedication to creating extraordinary moments. With our insider knowledge, local guides will ensure you make the most of your time, immersing yourself in the imaginative and fascinating world of Tokyo's themed cafes and bars.

    Remember, these truly unique must-sees are only a handful of the many others that are common in Tokyo and are a big part of Japanese history and culture. But, even if they are common to locals, they are rarely discovered by tourists and the group tours they sign up for. If these are the types of guided private tours that really appeal to you, then local guides are going to be your best way to experience them.

    Your trip to you experience it is up to you!

    The best private tours in Tokyo

    Wondering how much is a tour guide in Tokyo? If the allure of the road less traveled appeals to you, then don't hesitate to reach out to City Unscripted today.

    Unfortunately, many of them are often overlooked by the commercial private tours, walking tours, and especially the group tours that stick to taking you to the hotspots and never consider whether you'd like to see something other than the typical touristy spots. But if the road-less-traveled really appeals to you, then reach out to City Unscripted today.

    Our guides are all individuals who know their host cities well. They will work with you to determine what types of experiences are most interesting to you and find an itinerary that suits your timeline and your budget. Not only that, but all of our guides speak English as well as the main language of the country they are in. Many also speak other languages as well. Whether it's a local festival, a hidden izakaya or any number of other unique experiences, we are ready to help you plan a Tokyo trip that is as unique as it is unforgettable.

    Come see Tokyo like a true Tokyoite!

    Hello, curious traveler!
    Embark on a unique experience with
    Hello, curious traveler!
    Embark on a unique experience with
    City Unscripted Tokyo.
    Our personalized, private tours, led by local hosts, make you feel like you’re exploring the city with a knowledgeable friend. We’ll take you to well-known sights and reveal Tokyo’s hidden gems, unveiling stories typically missed by traditional tours. So unscript your journey, and see Tokyo through the eyes of our local hosts!

    We’ll pair you with the perfect host

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    There is no better way to see a city than with a friend who lives there. This is why we carefully match guests with their perfect host based on interested, personality and type of experience so they can discover a city beyond the tourist trail.