It seems like every JR destination has a small visitor information kiosk or office within the station area, or just outside. The same can be said for the numerous private railway line operators as well. Promoting local cultural sites, places of historical interest, and other places of interest to visitors is done in places large and small.
However much I pre-plan a day’s adventures, I always make a bee line for that Visitor Information Office. Friendly volunteers. Usually maps or brochures to take (with good graphics, maps in Japanese only can still be very useful).
At JR Onomichi the Information Office volunteer quickly sorted out a circular ferry route for our group, so we could explore that part of the Inland Sea by cruising out to Setoda, then getting back to Mihara via a different ferry before training it back to Hiroshima.
Many Information Offices have daily accommodation specials, listing those local places with rooms available that day. So if you turn up somewhere and decide to stay, or have not arranged accommodation beforehand – try the nice folks at the Information Office. Doing this at JR Nara I jagged a 5-Star hotel room for the price of a hostel dorm room.
I have hired bikes to explore towns from Information Offices in Masuda, Nara and Heda.
There is only a fleeting contact with the good folk of the Information Offices. A few times now I have written back to those offices, thanking them for how they have contributed to us enjoying their place. For the thousands of others – thank you all!