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Tips for going on a Nagomi Visit with young kids

2016-05-18

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  1. Include a saturday lunch date in your request
  2. This is especially important if you are looking for a host who has similar age kids. First it’s important to include in your request that you would like to meet a family with similar age kids or just young kids in general but including a saturday lunch date will help increase your chances since the parents have a day off, their kids will be awake and ready to play and everyone is happy and will be ready to meet you.

  3. Request to meet at an earlier time for dinner
  4. If you are only available for a dinner time and want to bring the kids back to the hotel by bedtime, ask to meet at an earlier time. We have many hosts with young kids who already request to meet at an earlier time in their personal messages to guests so many will be happy with the arrangement.

  5. Suggest an activity in addition to eating
  6. You will be eating lunch or dinner with your host for sure and most likely the host already has a play area with a bunch of toys or something ready especially if they have similar age kids but if you would like to have the kids play at a neighborhood park, playground, mall before eating so they will be less restless, don’t be afraid to ask! Or your host may have some ideas too. See what some of our past family Nagomi Visitors have done.

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    Other tips might be sharing your host’s profile beforehand which is important for anyone participating regardless of age, teaching your kids some Japanese phrases they might be able to test out, or if you have a local game or something your kids would want to teach the host kids, you can bring that too. Get creative with your Nagomi Visit experience!

What it's like to Nagomi Visit as a family with kids

2015-07-27

So how is it like to Nagomi Visit as a family

Our past participants will do a better job than us of describing the experience so here are some highlights.

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"We enjoyed two Nagomi visits. First in Tokyo with a delightful hostess and one of her friends and their 4 children. We were collected at the station and taken to visit the supermarket and 100 Yen shop, lots of fun discovering all sorts of different foods with two expert cooks! Back at the hostesses apartment we enjoyed preparing some cartoon character rice balls, a sushi "cake" and doing origami with the kids while the mums finished cooking. Our hostess and her friend prepared a wonderful meal of Japanese specialties and the children made shaved ice desserts. After dinner the children had prepared some traditional Japanese party games for us to play with them. Our second visit, in Matsumoto was different but equally wonderful. Our host family lived in a small town in the mountains. Their son had prepared a menu blackboard for us. We helped to make Takoyaki and then had make it yourself sushi and a wonderful traditional Japanese dessert. Both our host families went to an enormous amount of effort to prepare a delicious dinner and make us feel very welcome. Our two Nagomi visits have been the highlight of our 3 week long Japan trip. I strongly recommend the programme to anyone visiting Japan." - Sandy from Australia in Tokyo and Matsumoto

Discover how diverse Japan is with hosts all over Japan

"Learnt more about the differences between Hokkaido and other parts of Japan." - Pauline from Australia in Hokkaido

Even picky eaters can enjoy new dishes

"We had so much to eat. Pork, chicken, fish, soup, rice, salad, desert. And they tried to make my very picky son happy. I only asked not to cook so much for him and that we would already be so happy with their invitation, but they hoped he would like something, but in fact he liked everything. The host made us feel so comfortable and happy." - Marion from the Netherlands with 15 year old son in Kyoto

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Parents can enjoy chatting while kids have fun too

"There are so many topic we talked with Nobue and Kanae during our lunch visit to their place. We ended up with spending 5 hours at their place (instead of 2 hrs) :) we talked about the japanese culture, europe culture, education system, food, etc." - Mery from Switzerland in Osaka

Every Nagomi memory is different

"A surprise cake to celebrate my wife's birthday and seeing Wisteria at Nagoya Castle." - Kelvin from Singapore in Nagoya

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"Rolling sushi in the kitchen. Doing a yoga pose for the kids and singing with grandma." - Ajit from India near Narita Airport

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The Nagomi experience doesn't end with the visit

"My daughter and theirs are the same age, and they have talked before the visit, and plan to talk in the coming weeks again. I still plan to keep in touch with our hosts as much as possible going forward. I also hope to visit them again in a year or so when we return to Japan." - Chris from the US with 14 year old daughter in Osaka

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Find more information here about going on a Nagomi Visit as a family.

Who are the Nagomi Visit hosts?

2015-07-25

The simple answer would be that they are good regular folks just like you from all parts of Japan but by watching this video you can get a glimpse of who you will get to meet through Nagomi Visit.

Our hosts are from all walks of life. Families, friends, and foodies from all over Japan. So many different interests, ages, jobs, and so much more that you name it and you may find it! A person with similar interests or on the contrary, completely different to help you expand your horizons.

Haven't been able to ask people questions about Japan that have been adding up since day one of your trip? Your Nagomi Visit is your chance to clear a few things up. Like with the Noda family. They are more than happy to not only answer your questions but cook with you, let you see their home, and explore their neighborhood.

You may have already been to all the famous sites in Japan but perhaps your host has a hidden gem to share? Like Katsue here. She also has some friends who she can introduce you to if you are interested in traditional Japanese Shibuyo dance or taiko drumming.

Good food and good people are already part of the Nagomi Visit equation. There is so much in store for you and all you need to do is communicate directly to your host as if talking to a good friend.

Like the Asaba family says, "We are looking forward to meeting you."

Happy Nagomi Visiting to you!

How to Check Travel Distance to Host's Home

2015-06-04

How to Check Travel Distance to Host's Home
  1. Check each potential host's profile details before you choose your host and complete your booking. Each profile will have a list of major stations they are closest to and travel distance by train (e.g. 30 mins from Tokyo Station.) All are required to be under an hour. If you are concerned about travel distance this will be your first reference point.
  2. Need to know the distance from your hotel or any other specific location to your host's home? Use Google maps by entering their station and also an address or station where you will be coming from.

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    Use the directions function on Google Maps and type in both to and from details and click on the train icon. This will help you visualize the train route to your host's station but in the meantime it will also give you the time it will take to your host's station from wherever you will be coming from.

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  3. After your booking has been completed, make sure to use your host as a resource for exact directions but we also recommend using Jorudan or HyperDia for specific route details as sometimes it is easier to decipher which specific trains to take using these two sites in comparison to Google Maps. However Google Maps is a great way to immediately visually see distance so we recommend both tools for different reasons.

How to Choose a Station

2015-04-19

How to Choose a Station
  1. Check the locations where you will be staying or traveling. Simply find those stations on our booking form pulldown menu.
  2. Can’t find the exact station but want to know the closest station? Use our map which shows all our Nagomi Visit host locations, basically where the pink logos are placed.

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  3. Type in a station name or address using our map and check to see which Nagomi Visit stations are the closest. Look for our pink square logos.

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    For example if you are trying to find the nearest station from Asakusa then you will see that Ueno Station is the closest using our map.

Need the host to be nearby?

Add your distance requirement (e.g. within 30 mins) in the Preferred Host Type column on our booking form.

However, be cautious when making this decision to add a distance requirement, keep in mind that there will be more chances of finding a great hosts if there are less restrictions. Also that our hosts are easily accessible by train. However, if you are only in Japan for a few days and have time restrictions then we also recommend including the station where you will be coming from and that you are looking for someone nearby that station.

Why I care so much about Nagomi Visit: a message from COO Alisa Sanada

2015-01-31

Alternative title: Why I stopped telling people Japan was not mysterious or weird

My reasons for caring so much about Nagomi Visit are very personal.

What I want to accomplish through Nagomi Visit is to have as many people

  1. experience and get to know the real Japan
  2. realize that underneath the more obvious cultural differences, there are more similarities that bring us together as humans

Why would I want to work so hard to make this happen?

The simple answer? My experiences growing up Japanese-American in Texas.

I grew up in an environment during the 80s and 90s in the States where Japan was thought of as a mysterious land from the Far East described by books like Memoirs of a Geisha. On the other hand, when I met people who loved Japan they were in love with a magical place only described by the fansubbed anime they were watching.

Now a decade or so later with Japanese words like “umami” being used in mainstream foodie shows, times have changed since then. But it is hard to believe that things are completely different and all for the better when I continue to see articles on supposedly journalistically legitimate newspapers exaggerating how zany Japan is.

Not many people saw the country for what it really was, and this still continues to this day.

To fight these extreme stereotypes of Japan my solution back in the day was to start a website called Real Japan. It was a little bit famous among Japanophiles in the late 90s so there is a slight chance that you may know about it. Well, most likely not. The name of the site kind of gives it away, but basically the website was trying to show the “real” Japan not depicted in guidebooks. Or, at least what I thought was the “real” Japan at the time.

The content of the website was filled with pictures I scanned from various summer family trips to Japan. About daily life like school, music, fashion...I covered whatever I could.

I sometimes look back at some of the content that still can be seen on Internet Archive and I must admit some of what I wrote does make me cringe a bit. Like I would not exactly consider coverage about cool Japanese vending machines an article about the true side of Japan. However, even these articles which were on the superficial side were more “real” than the information that was out there at the time.

Fast forward to the 2010s, I am no longer the Japanese-American teen in the States armed with a website but in my thirties having lived in Japan for 10 years and now the Chief Operating Officer of Nagomi Visit.

There is much more information out there about Japan so I feel like my job is not to write about the “real Japan” but help people get to the source, which is the actual people who live in Japan and let them do the sharing of what is "real."

So what all started from frustration of feeling like one side of my Japanese-American bicultural self was being misunderstood, is now my life’s work.

I know the actual Nagomi Visit itself only lasts a few hours but I want participants to see it as an opportunity for opening doors to communication between people who might otherwise not have a chance to meet and that it will just be the beginning of a great friendship where everyone will see each other as whole people.

What did you learn from visiting more than one host?

2015-01-11

Paul from the UK who visited 7 hosts in various parts of the country summarizes the experience very well. "Everyone is different. Every single visit has been different in every way. So if you want to experience more you gotta do more I think."

"I think each one has their own moments. It’s difficult. I can’t say one was definitely better than any other. For instance my host in Kyoto quickly made me feel at ease. I’m not sure why that was the case. Maybe it was because we started joking around fairly quickly. I knew she was a relaxed so I knew there was less chance of offending her. Same when her friend turned up. They were relaxed around me. "

"In Hiroshima my host invited her neighbor. She was an art teacher. She was just a really interesting person. We started chatting and she gave me her book of her work. I thought she was a fascinating person so that was interesting."

"The two daughters and the wife in Takamatsu, again, they were great. As soon as we got to their house we were chatting and laughing which made me feel at ease as well. They did origami with me. We made some paper cranes so that was cool as well. One of the girls plays piano and she learned the UK national anthem, and they eventually got me to sing it. That was really funny. That was quite a funny experience. Again that was totally different from anything else I’ve done. I can’t believe she learned the whole national anthem just like that as well. That was cool."

"So like anything else, there is no one that is more outstanding than the other. They have all been absolutely brilliant."

"The biggest surprise for me was no two meals were the same. Ok miso soup was a popular thing but even then that was different in every place. They would put different things in it."

We asked a few more guests about their experiences meeting multiple hosts.

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First we asked a guest from the Netherlands traveling to Japan for the first time. When we asked why he decided to book more than one Nagomi Visit he gave us a great comprehensive answer.

I still looking back with so much pleasure at my two Nagomi Visits. It were the highlights of my trip through Japan. If I have the possibility to visit Japan again, I would start with booking Nagomi Visits.

Why did you decide to book more than one Nagomi Visits?

I wanted to meet Japanese people at their own home. I heard it should not be easy to visit Japanese people at their own home. So I was very pleased to find Nagomi Visit. I read that I could meet them and have diner/lunch with them at their home. That was exactly what I was looking for. I read on your website that is was possible in different cities. I looked at my travel schedule to find cities where you offered possibilities. I decided to ask for two cities to start with but I would like to ask for more.

Were you glad you visited more than one host?

Yes, very much. It was a pity that I did not booked more visits. I felt so comfortable when I was at both their homes. I was sorry to leave them again.

What did you learn from visiting more than one host?

It were two very, very nice hosts. They where real different from each other. That makes my experiences so much completer, richer. Three or more would have made it even more complete for me.

Second was a guest from Hong Kong traveling to Japan for the first time. He mentioned that he saw Nagomi Visit as a great opportunity to meet people during his travels, especially since he was traveling solo.

Were you glad you visited more than one host?

Sure!!..My 2 visits were rather different in family background. 1 of them is in the Tokyo city center, while the other one is at an non-tourist area of Tokyo,with 3 kids

What did you learn from visiting more than one host?

I think that the more you visit, the more you know about Japan (or Tokyo), and I see different part of this city, the country.

I met host just living near Shinjuku, I see the life in the very center of Tokyo, the food, the house, the life style of modern Japanese people. The other host shall be in a suburb of Tokyo ( I think ). But the host with her family gave me another experience, a Japanese home style, an very tranquil place, with good sashimi~ My host couple really made good Japanese dishes! By the way, they are both interested in my culture as well. They were very eager to know more about my living.

I met people in different ages, from different background, living in different part of the city. I communicated with them and know how the life is in Japan, in different aspects.

I know more about how Japanese people think about their country, learn different culture ( I know how to make the roll with seaweed, sashimi, rice and a special leaf) and get to know a bit about life and living in Tokyo. Moreover, I discover the attractiveness of small town in Japan, which is really out of a tourist reach.

It is quite special when comparing the 2 hosts. Since I deliberately choose my 2nd host with kids. So my visits made me met young people in similar age, in youth, met couples with kids.

Third, we asked a guest from Germany who was also visiting Japan for the first time but since she was also interested in cooking, she decided to participate in a Cooking Visit in addition to her two Nagomi Visits in Tokyo and Kyoto.

Were you glad you visited more than one host?

Absolutely. All three experiences were different - the first dinner was where we were joined by the neighbor, and it was really lively and warm atmosphere. The cooking visit was exciting and very educational. During the third visit it was just the two of us and thus different from the first dinner, but also a very friendly atmosphere.

What did you learn from visiting more than one host?

Apart from that it was also interesting to meet people from different parts of the country with different living arrangements and obviously also different life experiences...Basically the good thing about doing more than one Nagomi visit is the chance to meet even more new people and make maybe more new friends. And also try different foods, but I admit while the food was always delicious, it was secondary to meeting my hosts.

We also asked a guest from the US about his multiple Nagomi experiences, especially since he has been to Japan before many times.

Were you glad you visited more than one host?

Absolutely. I've raved about this service to everyone I know!

What did you learn from visiting more than one host?

I was able to visit three separate homes in three very different areas... places that I would otherwise have no reason to visit. I was able to meet three very different people.

Mari I., Shizu S., and Mari T. were all very, very nice. The meals and time that I was able to share with them are among the most enjoyable experiences that I have had in Japan (I have visited Japan 6 separate times).

These are just a few out of many Nagomi Visitors who chose to visit more than one host. We will continue to share more!

So what happens after a Nagomi Visit?

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The short and sweet answer is that it is all up to you. This is what we hope makes participating in a Nagomi Visit special.

We've had hosts and guest tell us lovely reunion stories.

Here is a host who reunited with her guests in Singapore and Peru.

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Many others decide to make plans right after while both parties are still in Japan such as going out to eat at one of the host’s favorite restaurants, or participating in a local matsuri festival the next day. The sky has been the limit for what our participants have done post-Nagomi Visit.

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Others in the meantime keep in touch by sending postcards, care packages, and photos.

Here is a photo of a guest who shared the origami techniques they learned from their host and used to decorate their Christmas tree.

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If you have any post-Nagomi photos we'd love to see them and share!

Don’t believe what we say about Nagomi Visit, believe the blogs

2014-12-14

Still trying to figure out whether or not Nagomi Visit is for you? Let the blogs speak for themselves!

Here is the start of a roundup of various posts we found around the internet in various languages talking about their Nagomi Visit experiences.

Though we don’t edit any of the testimonials or reviews shared on our website, thought these blog posts will be more convincing since it is visually obvious we have no control over these posts. So here it goes, starting with a few English blog posts.

First, the English Nagomi Visit Reviews

We’ve actually had travel writers, journalists of all sorts write on their personal blogs of their experiences and this is one of them. Here is another example of a photographer sharing her experience with her breathtaking pictures.

Reviews by expats and students living in Japan

We have had expats and students studying abroad in Japan who decided to participate in Nagomi Visits simply because it’s just a good way to start immersing yourself into the culture.

"Nagomi Visit is a must-do if you’re living in Japan," she says. Here is a comprehensive post from a lovely participant who actually lived in Japan at the time.

Thoughts on Nagomi Visits in Osaka and beyond

Here are just a few written by guests who participated in our various other locations besides Tokyo. This first one is from a Nagomi experience in Osaka.

"Another highlight was our Nagomi visit organised by my sister inlaw. It was such a fun occasion, getting an insight into Japanese people’s home and cooking. A snippet of their lives, really. If you’re ever going to Japan, please do make sure you get to do it too! For the whole 3 hours we were there, I smiled the whole entire time. The experience authenticated my trip, if that makes sense?”

Here is another from some great people who visited hosts in Nagoya.

“I had a special treat for dinner tonight as I was hosted by the Saitoh's at their home. They are part of a host programme, Nagomi Visit, and would host dinner (and share their love for Nagoya and Japan) to tourists in Nagoya. They are an absolutely lovely and friendly couple. If you're looking for a friend away from home, look no further!”

“Dinner was a delicious meal with tempura, rice steamed with other ingredients, miso soup, salad and konyaku, all expertly prepared by Sadame! I had so much fun chatting with them, and time just flew by. Meeting them felt like catching up with old friends I haven't met in a while. Jokes, conversation and laughter filled our time together, and I think I will have sore cheeks tomorrow from laughing too much.”

There are many, many others just like the following but we will stop around here as I think you get the point by now!

"For dinner we went to a Nagomi visit where a local family lets you visit their houses and cooks you homestyle Japanese food for dinner. Our family cooked us Oden which is a type of vegetable and fish stew. I highly recommend doing this if you come to Japan."

What it's like to Cooking Visit

Lastly, here is another review of our Cooking Visit program. The great thing about this write up is that it represents a lot of the comments we receive from people these days. Since we have been running this program a couple of years, we are getting a lot of people participating again every time they come to Japan. Other’s like the following couple here are hearing about Nagomi Visit from the grapevine which is very exciting.

"Our friends Rob and Aly recommended this organization for an in-home cooking lesson, and we’re really happy we took their advice. Not only do you get to learn some new skills and ingredients and enjoy a delicious meal, you also get a structured conversation with a local who can guide you during your stay."

Japanese Reviews (some with English translations)

This is a great post by one of our hosts that is both in Japanese and English so you can get a sense of what our hosts are like.

All these four blog are all in Japanese but is a wonderful example of how the Nagomi Visit host network is growing all across Japan and how we are now able to share local family traditions from various regions of Japan.

This last one isn't written by a participant but is by a hostel employ who wrote about Nagomi Visit on their blog after hearing about our program from a guest from Australia that participated in a Nagomi Visit.

Reviews in various languages (including video)

Here is a video by a past guest from Russia of her Nagomi Visit. The Nagomi part starts around 8 minutes 17 seconds. This is the blog post that goes with the video. Here we have a very comprehensive review in Dutch with pictures, a Japan travel guide in Dutch which includes details about a Nagomi Visit...the list seriously can go on and on if we include everything so here is just a quick roundup!

If you have any blog posts to share with us or anything, we look forward to hearing from you!

There is more to a Japanese Christmas than KFC

2014-12-08

There is more to a Japanese Christmas than what you may have read. It is not always just about eating Kentucky Fried Chicken or spongy strawberry shortcake. Not that that's bad since the cakes are sure soft, moist and deeeelicious! We just hope you will be able to discover how our locals celebrate differently through Nagomi Visit.

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Here are just a few examples of how our hosts have gotten creative.

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Some Christmas themed santa and snowman sushi art anyone?

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Or some Japanese-style roasted chicken marinated in soy sauce?

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Sushi is often eaten to celebrate special occasions and Christmas is one of many for a lot of locals. From homemade sushi like the ones pictured below, to sushi delivery and yummy but affordable supermarket sushi.

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Though people usually work on Christmas eve and on Christmas day in Japan, there are many hosts who would be more than happy to welcome you and share their traditions for dinner so come celebrate with us!

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