In order to maximize one’s visit to another country, almost all visitors tend to stay for quite a while. The common option for visitors when they want to stay for a few nights in a foreign country is to book a hotel. Hotels provide great amenities as well as impeccable services to tourists who do not know much about their country. In recent years, renting apartments at a much cheaper price have become popular. In Japan, there is another option for people who wish to look for a cheaper accommodation and that is through homestay.
Why Homestay in Different Cities in Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, etc.)
First of all, one may wonder what a homestay is. A homestay is basically a home of a Japanese family that welcomes tourists visiting Japan. The family typically allots a room for their guests and provides meals. Usually, the family also arranges activities for them and their guests to enjoy the length of their stay. Japanese families offering homestay are also typically nice and accommodating.
A great thing about opting for a homestay is that one gets the opportunity to become a part of a Japanese family while staying in Japan. It also helps visitors learn a few basic Japanese phrases as well as learn about the Japanese culture by watching the Japanese family’s actions and way of living. Moreover, visitors also get to learn the different customs of Japanese people. While flying to Japan may be relatively easy, actually meeting and interacting with Japanese people may prove to be a challenge for non-Japanese speakers. A homestay would most certainly fix that problem.
It is important that looking for a homestay in Japan is not exactly that easy. Though this has become quite the custom in Japan, there is actually only a limited number of families that are willing to open their home to strangers or foreign visitors as of now. The best way to look for one is to look for a website or an online platform that pools the available homestays in Japan based on the city.
There are a number of reasons as to why a Japanese family would be willing to accept foreigners as guests to their own home. One of these reasons is that there are families who actually have enough space in their home that they can rent out anyway. Typically, these Japanese families accept prospective students of Japanese universities who are still looking at their options in Japan. There are also some who are students in an exchange program.
One may wonder what the advantages are when choosing a homestay instead of, say, a hotel. The first reason would be that a homestay offers visitors a good opportunity in learning and honing one’s Japanese skills. Furthermore, actually living with a Japanese family opens the eyes of the visitors to the common customs of the Japanese people as well as their culture.
Moreover, there is nothing better than being able to optimize one’s stay in Japan by living like the Japanese people. Minors are also allowed to homestay in Japan. It is also easier to make friends and acquaintances when one already knows and lives with Japanese people. In addition, the fee to be paid for a homestay already includes utility expenses and meals.
There are, of course, also disadvantages to a homestay in Japan. One of these disadvantages is the adjustment. As one would be staying in their actual home, the host family would already have a lifestyle and rhythm of their own. It is up to the visitor to adjust to this lifestyle even if it might be far different from one’s own. If one is a student, another thing to consider is the amount of time needed to get to school.
In comparison to other options, it may take a bit longer. As everyone has his or her own liking, one must also consider the possibility of not liking one’s host family. Of course, it would be best to be optimistic about it but just accept the possibility that one would not live well with one’s host family. Nonetheless, one would still have to remain civil and respectful.
One supposes that another good thing about a homestay is that one would be interacting and living with Japanese people. They know better than anyone else in the world about the best places to see and the best things to do in their homeland. It is also a plus that they also might know some hidden gems or secret spots that one would not have been able to discover alone. Host families tend to arrange activities that they think would make their guests fully enjoy their stay in Japan.
The most important thing about a homestay is getting the most out of it. It may not be obvious but people who plan to study in Japan would actually benefit from a homestay. Newcomers are suggested to try a homestay because they would not only learn about the local customs that they would have to understand once they stay in Japan to study but also improve their hearing skills as they listen to their host family speak to each other.
The idea is for newcomers to spend their first few months in a homestay as they initially try to adjust to their life in Japan. After which, students can then move into a dormitory or an apartment once they have already somehow adjusted. It is also important to note that finding good accommodations in Japan can be pretty challenging. Hence, it would be best to already search for good ones when one arrives in Japan and while living in a homestay.
A homestay is not only good for students but also for regular travelers. Homestays are available for a single night or for months. Instead of basing one’s trip on a guidebook, it is recommended to travel with an actual local who knows the way around the city. Each island, city, prefecture, or district has its own “feel,” hence a homestay would guarantee visitors that the host family would know the do’s and don’ts in the area of choice.
Other Homestay Programs/Options in Japan
Aside from the regular Homestay Programs that can be found online, there are also other options or alternatives that would hopefully fit one’s bill. One of these other programs is a Home Visit. There are people who still prefer to book and stay in a hotel when they visit Japan due to various reasons. However, they would also still like to meet and interact with a Japanese family.
This program is for those people. Without having to avail a homestay, one can still get to meet and spend time with a Japanese family. The fees included in this program are Homestay Registration or Application Fees and drinks and snacks for the visit. Costs on transportation or tickets are not included.
Another program is known as the Japanese Language School and Homestay Program. This is for the visitors who wish to not just learn the Japanese language in a language school but also embody is by living with Japanese people. After all, to fully learn something, it is not just about studying but also practicing. The main point of this program is to let students be able to practice what they learned from their Japanese language schools by talking and interacting with their Japanese host family.
Not only would one be able to improve one’s Japanese language skills, one would also be able to boost one’s confidence in speaking the language. If Japanese people can actually understand what one is talking about when speaking Japanese, it is a good sign that one is actually improving. The host family may also help the students in honing their Japanese language skills by giving some tips. The program fees include Orientation, Homestay Registration or Application Fees, Homestay Accommodation Fees (including 2 meals or 1 meal per day), 24-hour Emergency Support, Language school application fees, and Language school registration fees and tuition. Another program that one can also check out is the Vacation Homestay Program.
Getting the Most Out of Traditional or Cheap Homestay Experience
There are many types of homestays depending on one’s liking. No matter the type, may it be the traditional one or just a cheap one, the most important thing is to get the most out of the homestay experience. One should know the benefits of different study programs that are associated with a homestay in order to optimize one’s experience. The benefit of short-term study abroad programs with a homestay is that one is able to improve one’s Japanese conversational skills in a short amount of time just by listening and speaking to the host family.
On the other hand, this short amount of time may also actually be too short if one really wants to master the Japanese language. It would be recommended that one get into long-term study abroad programs with homestay. The ideal situation would be to homestay for 2 to 3 months while one is still settling in and learning the ropes as well as the language. After which, one can already move to an apartment or dormitory. Aside from honing one’s Japanese conversational skills by speaking with the host family every single day, one can also learn from his or her long time studying in school.
The benefit of vacation homestays is that one would get to travel and explore different cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, or Nagoya, while one homestays with different host families. With this, one is able to get insider tips that only locals would know about where to go in their home city. One would then get to check out the best restaurants, stores, and sightseeing spots in that city thanks to the advice of their host family.
Other homestays that one should look into and their corresponding benefits include university exam homestays, corporate training homestays, and working holiday homestays. Each of these has its own set of benefits that one should consider before actually applying for the program.
Tips on Living with A Host Family in Japan
Being a foreigner in Japan, it is only understandable that one does not fully understand the different customs as well as the culture of Japan. The first tip with living with a host family in Japan is to take off one’s shoes before going indoors. It is important to know that the Japanese actually do not wear shoes inside their home. There is typically an assigned place by the door of the house where one can leave his or her pair of shoes.
After which, house slippers are provided, which are only used inside the home. However, if the host family has straw mat floors, then it is expected that one would go in barefoot. Another thing to take note of when it comes to slippers is that Japanese people actually have a separate pair of slippers for the bathroom. Hence, when going to the bathroom, remove one’s current slippers and wear the designated bathroom slippers.
Another tip is to present a gift to the host family. Even though they are paid for accommodating you into their own home, it is still customary for Japanese people to bring gifts when going to other people’s homes. These gifts do not have to be expensive at all. An ideal gift would be ones that are small and best represent one’s home country. Presenting this gift to one’s host family would definitely be appreciated.
The last tip would be to expect that one would be busy while staying with the host family. Japanese host families take the responsibility of accommodating a guest quite seriously. Hence, it is normal for them to arrange for various activities for their guests to enjoy while staying in Japan. They would most likely want to give their guests a tour around their city and offer tips on how to get around. It may be a bit overwhelming for some people but this is just the way that host families welcome their visitors into their homeland. They want to make sure that visitors would have the best time while they homestay in Japan.