Also available in: Nederlands
Get to enjoy a home cooked meal with a Japanese family with Nagomi Visit. The best way to meet new people, learn about their culture and enjoy time at their home. Nagomi Visit has about 750 hosts who helped more than 4000 people from 67 countries enjoy Japanese food and hospitality. The philosophy behind the concept is to make new friends. In my case that worked out perfectly, my host Naoko and her family were fantastic; we still keep in touch. Just the other day I received a postcard from her.
How did I experience my visit?
About a month before I left for Japan I found myself a host on Nagomi Visit. A few days later we became friends on Facebook and exchanged our mobile numbers. Through Facebook and Whatsapp we got to know each other a little bit before my trip to Japan. After a few days Tokyo, the time had finally arrived to meet Naoko and her family. We planned to meet up at Tennoudai station in her hometown, fifty minutes by train from Tokyo station. Also my first train trip from this enormous station. While riding the train, I got a bit nervous I must admit. Sure we had contact before I left but maybe there wouldn’t be a click between us, or we had nothing to talk about during dinner. On arrival Naoko was already waiting for me when I got off the train, she brought a sign with my name. Wich wasn’t necessary, we recognized each other immediately. After a short ride by car, we arrived at her house. Too bad I couldn’t see the garden, the sun already went down. Inside, her mother (Namiko) and her son were waiting for us.
After I had taken off my shoes, they informed immediately about my foot (had contact with Naoko the day before to find something against the pain in my heel). So sweet of them. I was allowed to look around the house for a bit before I joined them in the kitchen. She asked me beforehand if I liked to help cooking. Since I love food, I immediately said yes. Together with her son and mother, we prepared Nigiri. Enjoyed the cooking and had so much fun. Her older son also came in to greet me, didn’t want to, puberty and all however always listen to your mother. 😉
Besides the Nigiri that we prepared together, they already made lots of other food. Tempura with sausage, mushrooms, shrimps and other food like salad, meat, lotus, and yams.
During dinner, we talked about lots of different topics. Namiko only spoke a bit of English, so Naoko also had to be the interpreter. What an amazing people, really enjoyed being there helping to prepare dinner and talking with them. Before I forget to tell the food was delicious. After dinner, she gave me special bandages for my heel, so sweet. Off course I didn’t arrive empty handed and gave them a tin with Dutch stroopwafels (treacle-waffle) I thought it would be fun to give them a small present from the Netherlands. She told me I shouldn’t have done that and then she gave me a beautiful banner with owls on it for good luck, made it extra special after my experience at the Owlcafé in Tokyo.
Around 10 p.m. she gave me a ride back to the train station, one hour later I arrived back in Tokyo. What an amazing experience, I highly recommend it to everyone. The moment I return to Japan, we already decided we will meet up again.
Nagomi Visit what do you need to know?
Naturally, everything starts with finding a host. They are all people who love food and like to meet new people. Please note that you have to book at least ten days in advance. The first thing you need to do is fill in the web form with the following information:
In what area are you looking for a host.
Enter the dates when you are available and if you want to have lunch or dinner.
Do you come alone, together or with children?
Name, age and country of origin.
Upload a photo. You don’t have to, but I recommend doing so.
Perhaps most important, write an introduction text about yourself. It doesn’t need to be an essay. However, it is important that you write something about yourself.
Indicate what kind of host you are looking for, someone with children or a group of friends, a solo host, or as I did, every host welcome.
Indicate whether you are allergic for some food or can’t eat certain food because you are a vegetarian etc.
Then it gets a bit exciting. Your profile will be online, and the hosts have three days to respond if they want to meet up with you. My first reactions arrived on day three. Was already getting nervous that no one wanted to meet me. ?If you have hosts that want to meet you after the three days are up, the roles are reversed. You get three days to choose a host from the hosts that responded. Obviously the hosts, also tell something about themselves. Once you’ve accepted a host your are all set to meet your unknown new friends.
There is a fee you need to pay, that fee will help to cover costs that the host need to make for food and drinks and also to keep Nagomi Visit running. The price is 3500 Yen (about 28 euro) per person. It’s a fixed price for any appointment made through Nagomi Visit. Also, good to know that Nagomi Visit is a non-profit organization. Main reason for not paying directly to the host on arrival is to prevent a change of setting because you have to hand over money. Must say I totally get that, the moment you pay money when you meet up it feels more like a living room restaurant. Also by paying on their website, they can assure that the price is the same for every host.
Travel time and minimum duration of the visit.
The distance to the house of your host is always a maximum of one hour calculated from your departure station. Only hosts that meet that criteria will respond. After the payment is made, you will get to see where to meet your host.
The minimum duration of the visit is somewhere between two and three hours. However, don’t plan your visit with little time to spare the visit can always end up longer than you thought. My visit was about four hours; I had a great time however still had to return to Tokyo.
What else is there to know?
All Nagomi Visit hosts speak English. Keep in mind that they may not always speak English fluid, have some patience in that case.
The hosts will always do their best to prepare a delicious meal and give information about the food and share their culture with you. But keep in mind that they may have worked or still have a family to take care of. After all, it is not a holiday for them. Therefore, they may not have hours and hours on end to stand in the kitchen.
If you want to help with cooking also write this in your profile.
You will spend time at their home so behave accordingly and make sure you are not late for the appointment.
Just look at it as eating at friends and not in a restaurant. Just socialize and help with anything if needed.
Good to know: chopsticks etiquette what do you need to know. (coming 31-03-2017)
The most important thing is to be yourself, make sure you are hungry, in te mood to chat and meet new people. It might be fun to take a small present with you, but it isn’t required. Hopefully, you enjoyed my blog post. Let me know in the comments below if you plan to go or if you already enjoyed Nagomi Visit.
Let me know what you think. Curious about it.