Are you traveling to Japan to check it out? Have you planned on where you’ll be staying? You can always stay an overly priced hotel, a capsule hotel, or stay at a inexpensive hostel, but did you know there’s also a way you can score some free accommodation while visiting Japan? This method has been used before, and I have linked to some proof at the bottom of this article. I haven’t done this myself but I have a handful of friends that have.
There is one website I suggest registering with. It’s called Couch Surfing and on it’s most basic level it’s a bit like a “dating site” for travelers (although it doesn’t mean real romance is included). There’s a nominal fee to get your address verified and I recommend doing this if practical.
The idea is that you create a profile and browse the profile of other members. Some members profiles will indicate that they are able to host you for free during your stay, others might not be able to host but may be available to meet up so you can meet new people and get some local insight.
The site works based on feedback so therefore if you host people or they host you then you both get an opportunity to leave feedback. A series of good references on your profile makes it easy to attract the next host.
The Couch Surfing community is big in Japan however it’s not easy to get hosted by Japanese people. They often find it difficult to host because
- their rooms are too small
- their housemates aren’t comfortable with strangers sharing
- many Japanese tend to work crazy hours and just aren’t available
- a lot of rental contracts forbid guests staying there
A lovely couple, Martin and his wife, registered with Couchsurfing back in December 2008 and hosted a lot of guests in their apartment in Thailand before flying to Japan in April. If you can also host then it looks good to other members but if not then a sincere email to the potential host should be enough to encourage them to host you.
When they visited Japan they flew during the cherry blossom time and found that many hosts were booked out for months in advance. They got lucky and spent some time staying with westerners who lived there. They spent about 5 nights with one host close to Kyoto and attended a Couch Surfing picnic in Kyoto too. During that picnic they were able to meet a lot of english-speaking Japanese friends who were happy to take them around the city in their spare time. In Tokyo they got to see some great parts of the city after meeting a Couch Surfer there.
They kept a detailed diary of our adventures here:
You’re going to love Japan. It’s always handy to have a Japan travel guide when you go. Japan can be one of the best holiday’s you’ll ever have, and one of the most interesting. Doing some Couch Surfing will help broaden your experience when traveling internationally. To explore more about the country and culture it’s always a good idea to brush up on some Japanese language so you can get the full experience.