We have been getting a lot of media attention lately and are noticing a pattern in the questions we are being asked so decided to do a rundown of the basics.
This sudden surge in interest motivated us to really self reflect and update our About Us page so we are very grateful of this opportunity in addition to the obvious well needed exposure.
What does Nagomi Visit do?
Nagomi Visit International is a non-profit organization promoting cultural understanding through home cooking. We provide a forum for cultural and culinary exchange by inviting locals to open their homes for travelers over lunch or dinner.
What is so special about Nagomi Visit?
We know meal sharing is not a new phenomenon but Nagomi Visit is here to make it easier to connect travelers and locals with the help of a little technology and a real life support team. Being an organization that started in Tokyo, we currently already have a strong fan and user base in Japan. However what makes us more special is that our programs are setup so that it is clear that all our participants are in it to make meaningful connections with travelers and locals alike as oppose to for monetary reasons. Safety is also a trait since the Nagomi Visit team takes time to communicate with all hosts and guests to create a community.
How did Nagomi Visit get started?
In 2009, Nagomi Visit’s founder Megumi visited Denmark for the first time and was invited to a local home for dinner. The foods, the people, 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 bond 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.
What is Nagomi Visit’s mission?
We want to encourage locals and travelers to humanize each other by “breaking bread” during their travels.
While there are many ways to exchange cultures, there is an important reason as to why we literally took the Japanese idiom “onaji kama no meshi o kuu” and made it into a program where people of all cultures come together to “eat rice out of the same pot.” Visiting a local home for lunch or dinner is the closest you can get to sharing each other’s everyday lives, which is the best way to start seeing a country for it’s people and not just as another place.
Who are the Nagomi Visit hosts? Why do they host?
Basically real people just like you. Many are in their 20s to 60s, live alone or with friends and family in apartments and homes all across Japan including Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, Sendai, Fukuoka, Niigata, Hakuba/Matsumoto, and Iga Ueno. There are many who are hosting because they themselves have been welcomed to a local home and being a part of Nagomi Visit is their way of giving back.
Who are the Nagomi Visit guests? Why do they participate?
All our participants from 35 countries have so far been couples, families with children, friends, solo travelers, basically everyone who is an independent-minded traveler wanting to know more about Japan or interested in meeting new people. Though most of our participants have been between the ages of 20 to 60, we have had requests from very active 70 year olds which is very humbling.
We also have large groups of professors, instructors, and students participate as part of their school program, and even expats who have lived in Japan for awhile but would like to become more immersed into the local community.
What do participants get out of the experience?
We hope that the more you put into it the more you get out of it. Generally it’s the first time a traveler meets a local in their own home so that already is in itself a rewarding experience. Most participants come into the program ready to eat a good meal of course but are surprised by the variety of dishes they have never seen before in their local Japanese restaurant back home. Even those who have eaten the dishes, notice that not everyone cooks it like their restaurant does. Some also notice that they started liking ingredients they thought they didn't care for before like seaweed, seafood, tofu and the like because of freshness or differences in preparation among other reasons. Then of course is the time you spend with the host. Both the verbal and nonverbal exchanges have led to some great friendships. Even if not all conversations lead to everlasting relationships, don’t hesitate to ask hard hitting questions as this is your opportunity to learn.
What does the future hold for Nagomi Visit?
We are always expanding the number of hosting areas but we also have a few more Nagomi Cooking Visit instructors who will be able to teach Japanese cooking in other parts of Japan besides in Tokyo.
So come and Nagomi Visit with us!
If you have any questions feel free to contact us!