A unique way to frame your stay in a foreign country is by doing a homestay with a local family, and Japan is one of the best countries in the world in which to do so. Homestay-in-Japan.com is an established, reputable company that can help you with all the necessary arrangements. Check out their English website for comprehensive information on everything you need in order to plan and enjoy your homestay.
There are two major advantages in staying with a local family as opposed to going with more typical travel accommodation options. The obvious one is that you experience the "real" culture rather than the one normally presented to visitors through the tourism industry. Of course fancy sushi shops and famous shrines are worth checking out, but to understand what makes the average person tick you need to see how she or he lives. Spending a night, a week, or even a month with a Japanese family gives you a behind-the-curtains view that is not possible otherwise.
The less talked-about advantage is that the motivations for a host family are different from those of a hotel owner. The Ito family in Saitama are typical when they say they got involved with Homestay-in-Japan.com because of their own experiences backpacking abroad and staying with locals in countries like Germany and India. They want foreign guests to receive the same kind of attention and hospitality that shaped their own life-long memories from overseas. They also want their young children (aged 4 and 7) to grow up in an international atmosphere, connected to the world. The bottom line is that in a homestay you feel like a friend rather than a customer.
There are many other reasons why more and more people are turning to homestays when they travel to and around Japan:
- Home cooking is generally healthier (and cheaper) than restaurant meals. No line-ups, either!
- You can learn the language if you want to immerse yourself in it with your Japanese family.
- It is easier to interact with local people who have no connection to the tourism industry.
- Residential areas are usually quieter and more livable than hotel districts.
- You can easily use a homestay as a base from which to venture out into the rest of the country.
- Staying with a Japanese family for periods from a single night to a whole year or more can be very economical.
Consider a homestay for your time in Japan, and remember it for the rest of your life.