Tourist Information Center
Once difficult for foreign travelers to to utilise well, local tourist information centers are now becoming powerful ways to connect with the local sights and community around Japan.
Finding anything can be hard in Japan if you don't understand the layout of a place, but tourist information centers are generally among the easiest. The key is not to feel like using the centers make you more of a tourist and less authentic, as many Japanese themselves use the same services during their own travel! While you might know the main points of interest you want to see, you will most definitely find many more that you didn't even know about.
Whether it's to find a new place to visit, certain foods to eat, or even accommodation you'll be able to get it solved all in one place. Don't see this as a place that's just trying to sell you things, because they are much more neutral and oriented towards creating good experiences for visitors, and have a wealth of local knowledge.
it's good to have a qualified local person who can point you in the right direction.
What makes information centers useful to foreign tourists is the same reason that Japanese tourists use them as well: Total understanding of the local area. Japan is a small place, but because it's so dense and varied, and much information is difficult to find online, it's good to have a qualified local person who can point you in the right direction. This is especially good for making use of your time, and also knowing more precisely when you should go to certain places and how best to get there.
It really depends on where you are, but these days you can find helpful staff that speak English at least (or enough to get by) plus Chinese, Korean, and other Asian languages. You may even find some other European languages scattered about. This is really important not just for planning, but because they will also have a better idea of what is appealing to different cultures and groups.
In case you haven't noticed, Japan is a pretty well-organized place, and is designed for travel without needing your own transportation. If there's a place worth visiting, the information center will be able to help you find the best way to get there, whether by organized trips or public transportation. In fact, you can probably get a lot of that done more efficiently with a quick stop to the center once you arrive, and really get an idea of what to do and where to go.
Last minute help!
Things happen while you’re traveling, and sometimes you need support on the ground. This can often happen during hiking or ski trips where you only planned to go out for the day, but find yourself tired, hungry, and in need of a break. By giving a general budget and timing, they’ll be able to contact local inns and hotels to make your reservations for you, and then help you to get there easily. In most cases this is actually easier than getting online and finding a place, because all of your questions can be answered right there in the center.