Founder Megumi Kusunoki, Chief Operating Officer Alisa Sanada, and our Nagomi Visit hosts and guests make up the Nagomi Visit International community.
Our mission as a non-profit organization is to promote cultural understanding through home cooking. We inspire locals in Japan to open their homes to connect with people from all over the world and share their lives over lunch or dinner. We truly believe in the spirit of the Japanese idiom "onaji kama no meshi o kuu", hoping that people will come together by "eating rice out of the same pot." Or noodles of course!
In 2009, Nagomi Visit's founder Megumi visited Denmark for the first time and was invited to a local family's home for dinner. The food, the people, and everything she saw was new to her but the warmth she felt was just like anything she would experience with friends and family back home in Japan. The new bonds she made by sitting at the same table "breaking bread together" or "eating rice out of the same pot," was the inspiration for founding Nagomi Visit on September 2011. Megumi eventually joined forces with Alisa, a former colleague and friend. It was Alisa’s bicultural background being Japanese-American and extensive travel experience around the world that led her to want to become a part of this Nagomi movement of bringing about cultural understanding. Together with their strong commitment to cultural exchange and passion for food, they decided to convert Nagomi Visit to become a registered nonprofit organization and expand to what it is now.
As of November 2016 more than 750 volunteer hosts and approximately 4000 guests from 67 countries have chosen to be a part of the Nagomi experience. This is because we make sure to stay true to one basic principle: Nagomi. The word Nagomi in Japanese means "Japan" and "to befriend", signifying our organization’s dedication to sharing the real Japan and bringing people together.
How we make this happen is what makes our organization unique from others. At Nagomi Visit we keep hospitality genuine and we believe meeting interesting people should not come at a cost. We know the host and guest dynamic changes once money changes hands so the fixed price you pay goes to only cover very specific fees such as ingredients for the host to make your meal and operational costs for the Nagomi Visit team such as paying the server fees to run the site you are looking at right now. Everything about us and how we run is about building friendships, not business transactions.
Thankfully people have been responding to our dedication and the Nagomi community continues to grow as we speak.
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Megumi worked in many areas of tourism before founding Nagomi Visit in 2011. She is a former scuba diving instructor, tour operations manager, and marketing sales manager for online Japan resource japan-guide.com. She has also worked as a cooking instructor at a well known nationwide cooking school.
Alisa’s passion for cultural understanding comes from her unique background as a Japanese-American from Texas. She launched an internationally recognized website on Japanese culture in high school called Real Japan, worked in the web industry promoting Japanese products and tourism, and traveled to more than 70 countries.
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