With a reputation for expensive hotels, Japan is the perfect place to try a homestay. There’s no better way to experience the local culture than with a stay with friendly locals. A Japanese homestay is also a great way to practice your language skills, if you wish, and discover places off the beaten path.
And the best part is that it’s possible to find free accommodation in Japan in a homestay, so you can enjoy this unforgettable experience while saving a lot of money. In this article because we'll show you how.
If you've ever dreamed of diving headfirst into Japanese culture, then look no further than a homestay experience. Unlike staying at traditional accommodations like hotels or guesthouses, joining a local family lets you see what real Japan looks like.
You'll be able to partake in their daily routines and observe how they interact, all while picking up some useful phrases, if you're keen on learning Japanese.
In Japan, relationships are highly valued. By staying with a local host, you form bonds that go beyond mere acquaintanceship. You become part of their community.
Whether sharing meals together around kotatsu (a heated table) during winter nights or helping around, it’s these moments that bring us closer despite our different backgrounds and let us understand each other better.
Making memories with new friends to create a home away from home is what makes the experience special. Lifelong friendships often blossom from these shared experiences, leaving guests with a second home to return to in Japan.
Mouth-watering home-cooked meals
If food tourism drives your wanderlust, then wait till you taste authentic home-cooked Japanese cuisine. Forget sushi bars or ramen stalls; nothing beats kitchen delights prepared with love and traditional techniques. You might even pick up a few recipes to take back home.
Special tips off the beaten path
Opting for a Japanese homestay gives you access to firsthand knowledge from locals who know their city inside out. Your hosts can give unique recommendations tailored to what interests you most - whether that be foodie hotspots or hidden tourist gems.
Are you studying Japanese or thinking of giving it a try? Your language skills can only get better when you're surrounded by native speakers every day. This gives you ample opportunity to practice beyond classroom settings.
Beyond tourism benefits, homestays foster personal growth as well. Living abroad stretches comfort zones but doing so within a supportive host environment eases this experience significantly. Learning how another culture operates first-hand broadens horizons like nothing else can.
Valuable volunteer work
With volunteer abroad and work exchange platforms like Worldpackers, you can also give back to the community by volunteering during your homestay. This could be anything from teaching English to helping on a farm or at local businesses.
Depending on the position you choose, you'll not only contribute positively but also gain valuable work experience in an international setting.
This immersive journey can also be very affordable thanks to Worldpackers. The purpose of the platform is to connect travelers and hosts through a collaborative travel experience, which means you exchange a few hours of work for free accommodation and other perks.
You can stay in a comfortable place in Japan (and all around the world) spending little more than the platform’s small subscription fee, which is valid for a whole year.
If you're looking for an unforgettable travel experience, consider doing a homestay in Japan with Worldpackers. The goal of this platform is simple: help travelers make lasting connections while lending a hand in local communities.
You can check out all the positions available at the website for free. Once you select Japan as a destination, you have access to potential hosts from all around the country that are open to exchanging accommodation and other benefits for a few hours of work. If you’re looking specifically for a homestay, you can select it as the host type on the website’s filters, or simply click here.
Each host profile gives descriptions about the location, what they expect from volunteers and what they offer in return. Tasks can vary from cooking and cleaning to teaching English or working on sustainable projects—depending on what your host needs.
It’s not all work though. This experience allows ample time for exploring everything Japan has got up its sleeve, from tranquil temples nestled amidst nature to bustling cityscapes alive with energy and lights. Be sure to read the profiles carefully before settling on one.
The next step is to secure your spot. To do so, you must register at the website, put together your traveler profile and make an application, explaining to your host why you chose them and how you can contribute.
Check out some of the Japanese homestay experiences currently available at Worldpackers:
Once everything is settled, pack your bags because it's time for your homestay experience. Here's some advice to make your experience unforgettable.
Cultural sensitivity and respect
In any foreign land, respect towards local culture goes a long way. In Japan, it’s customary to greet people with bows instead of handshakes – deeper bows indicate more respect. Taking off shoes before entering homes is another key cultural practice. Research cultural norms such as these before your departure.
Making your way around
Traveling around Japan can be intimidating for those unfamiliar with the language, but there is no need to worry - the country has an efficient public transportation system that makes exploration easy.
Researching your destination city ahead of time is also helpful in familiarizing yourself with local routes and landmarks. And you can always ask your host for instructions on how to get to their place.
The art of communication
Journeying into a different language environment might seem challenging at first, but patience and curiosity will guide you along this linguistic adventure.
A basic grasp on simple phrases like “Hello” (Konnichiwa), “Thank You” (Arigato) could smoothen interactions with locals considerably.
Embrace mistakes as steppingstones towards fluency; after all we learn by doing. Translation apps like Google Translate are also quite useful.
Ask questions and show interest
Show genuine interest in your hosts’ culture, traditions, and daily routines. Take time to understand what they are trying to convey. This patience can lead to rewarding exchanges of knowledge and stories.
Most importantly, remember to stay respectful and patient. Keep an open mind and always be ready to learn throughout your Japanese homestay.
Japan travel tips
Japan is a captivating country known for its rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, delicious cuisine, and a perfect blend of tradition and modernity.
During, before or after your work exchange experience in a Japanese homestay, you should take time to explore your surroundings and see as much of the country as you can.
Here are some travel tips to help you navigate this beautiful country:
Navigate like a pro: use technology
One way to avoid getting lost in Japanese cities is by using technology smartly. Hyperdia, an app used by locals and tourists alike, provides detailed train schedules which makes commuting easier.
Google Translate’s camera function, meanwhile, allows instant translation of signs or menus – a lifesaver when trying out authentic local cuisines at non-English speaking restaurants.
Purchase a Japan Rail Pass
If you plan to explore multiple cities, consider getting a Japan Rail Pass. It offers unlimited travel on Japan Railways (JR) lines, including the shinkansen (bullet train), and can save you a significant amount of money.
Cash is king but cards aren't forbidden
Despite its advanced tech scene, Japan remains a largely cash-based society - especially outside big cities, where smaller establishments may not accept cards. Always have enough yen on hand.
Respect local culture
Japan has a strong concept of personal space. Be mindful not to stand too close to others, especially in crowded areas like trains.
Besides, know that Japanese society values harmony and politeness. Try to remain patient and respectful in all situations, even if there are language barriers or misunderstandings.
If you're doing a Japanese homestay, lucky you. But don't just stick around the house. Get out and explore some of Japan's best destinations. Here are a few places worth visiting:
Tokyo: the electric city
The city that never sleeps is full to the brim with exciting things to do. From modern attractions like Tokyo Disneyland and Robot Restaurant, to traditional sites such as Asakusa Temple or Meiji Shrine - Tokyo has it all.
Beyond the well-trodden paths, discover hidden gems like Shimokitazawa district for vintage shopping sprees or Rikugien Garden for a peaceful retreat from city life.
Kyoto: where tradition lives on
For culture vultures craving history and tradition, Kyoto won’t disappoint. With over 1,600 temples including Kiyomizu-dera temple, it’s easy to see why this place was once the imperial capital of Japan.
In addition to its historical charm, there's also room for contemporary wonders such as teamLab Borderless Museum, that showcases interactive digital art installations guaranteed to mesmerize any visitor.
Hiroshima & Miyajima Island: history and natural beauty
Hiroshima offers poignant reminders of World War II at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, while nearby Miyajima Island provides stunning natural beauty with sights like Itsukushima shrine – known famously for its "floating" torii gate. Plan a day trip to Miyajima from Hiroshima, it's just a short ferry ride away and the scenery is totally worth it.
Nara Park: meet Japan’s friendly deer
Nara Park, home to over 1,000 friendly deer who freely roam around. Visit Todai-ji Temple, housing one of the world's largest bronze Buddha statues, while you're there.
Immersive cultural experiences in Japan
Staying in a Japanese homestay offers an immersive cultural experience, far beyond the typical tourist activities. It's an open door into the heart of the culture, inviting you to dive deep and gain first-hand experience. But if you want more opportunities for cultural immersion, look for some fun activities such as calligraphy classes and karate lessons.
You can look for calligraphy classes, where ink met paper under expert guidance – allowing visitors a rare chance at expressing themselves through ancient strokes and swirls. Even if you’re not the most artistic type, you’re guaranteed to have fun through every smudged kanji character.
No exploration of Japanese culture would be complete without acknowledging its martial arts heritage. Try to sign up for a few karate lessons, where you’ll learn basic stances and katas (forms). Besides having fun, you’re likely to have more respect for their discipline.
Ready for the trip of a lifetime?
Living the real Japan is a game-changer. If you sign up for a Japanese homestay or decide to do a work exchange or volunteer program with different types of hosts in Japan, you’re going to dive deep into this unique culture.
When you travel through Worldpackers, you're not just visiting; you're living it. Enjoy!
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