Nagomi Visit is a non-profit that aims to make international connections and foster friendships. With over 600 hosts all over the country, the service matches guests according to location, interests, and preferences.
Cooking and meals are shared in the host’s home, so this is as homemade and authentic as it comes. Prices are affordable (only ¥3,500 yen per adult), families are welcome, and the vibe is informal. Guests indicate their location and needs, then hosts offer to accommodate guests according to their preferences and schedule.
Be sure to book in advance (at least 10 days) and choose a host that fits what you’re looking for, such as you wanting to help cook or that you’d like to eat tempura.
Nagomi Visit has hosts from Hokkaido in the north all the way down to Okinawa in the south, including many rural hosts, so guests traveling off the beaten path can meet true locals in all sorts of interesting locations.
This international company spans 18 countries, offering food experiences in the homes of local hosts. In Japan, hosting is available in Kyoto and Tokyo, and guests can choose to have a meal only, a meal plus a cooking lesson, or a meal, a cooking lesson, and a market visit.
For example, one host offers obanzai cooking, a style of cuisine native to Kyoto that specialises in simply prepared fresh, local, and seasonal seafood and vegetables.
In another Kyoto home, you may learn to make okonomiyaki, a versatile savory pancake stuffed with vegetables and other toppings and fillings as you like. Some hosts even offer same-day or next-day bookings.
Mayuko works out of a little apartment kitchen in central Tokyo, churning out home-cooked deliciousness. She has a good variety of menu choices, including menus specialising in sushi, tofu, or miso, and she even has lessons on preparing kyaraben, or character-themed bento boxes.
She’s also happy to cater to special dietary needs like vegetarian, vegan, or kosher. Mayuko is home-trained by her mother and grandmother, and also has certificates and credentials in sushi making, aromatherapy, and food sanitation.
Another central Tokyo choice is Buddha Bellies Cooking School, hosted by chef Ayuko Akiyama. Akiyama has been trained in sushi, as a sake sommelier, and as a kaiseki (traditional fine dining) cook, and her menus reflect her expertise.
From decorative sushi, sukiyaki, to traditional Japanese sweets, and tea ceremony, guests can prepare the gamut of Japanese cuisine. In the udon and teriyaki chicken class, guests learn to make the fat udon noodles from scratch! Vegan, vegetarian, and halal options are available upon request.
From sushi to okonomiyaki, Selena Hoy shares her favorite delicious Japanese dishes you've got to try.
Bjorn Koolen rounds up the best of Tokyo’s famous food scene.
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