A new Japanese law enacted this summer required Airbnb hosts to register and display a license. To comply with the law Airbnb was forced to cancel a lot of bookings at the last minute. This was some very bad press for peer to peer travel services in Japan. And a surprising number of sharing economy businesses that are active in countries throughout Asia don’t offer services in Japan. But I found some good peer to peer travel service options for visitors to Japan.
If you’re looking for tours and activities, there are a few good options. Experience+ offers tours and activities in many cities. I wrote about my Buddhist temple tour with them last year.
For specifically food-focused experiences, TravelingSpoon offers in home meal experiences with locals. They have options in many cities across Japan. Tadaku also offers cooking classes and dining sessions in Japan, but it’s probably not a good pick for tourists as the hosts are foreigners, introducing Japanese folks to other cuisines. Last year they told me they’re planning to add Japanese hosts for meals/classes for tourists but the website is still only in Japanese so I’m assuming that hasn’t happened yet. PlateCulture also has two home cooks offering meals in Japan, but they are not Japanese food. One includes “Homemade Horse & Pork Salami Plate with Cheese Garnish” along with Brazilian, Turkish and Bulgarian foods. While this may be a delicious meal, I’m not traveling to Japan for home cooked meals by foreigners.
If you want help planning your Japan itinerary and making travel arrangements, Viahero connects travelers with locals who provide customized services. They have six heros offering services in Japan right now (and another 7 showing unavailable). Levart is a similar service in Japan. They have some recommendations for interesting activities you can book yourself, and will also connect travelers with locals for customized itineraries. The website is still in beta and a bit buggy, but they have some interesting tips and a lot of locals ready to help.
And finally, if you want to get around using ridesharing, Japan has a network that’s been around for years: Notteco. The website is in Japanese (of course) but Google Translate appears to do a good job with their content. Of course there’s always Japan Rail, not ridesharing, but a very efficient and clean transportation option which is generally my go to in the country.