Japanese Families Open Their Homes to Travelers

Reed Travel Features

TOKYO -- Nearly 1,000 Japanese families are opening up their homes to foreign travelers as part of the Japan Home Visit System, which is providing travelers with the rich cultural experience in 18 cities throughout the country, according to the Japan National Tourist Organization.

Japanese hosts fill out a profile sheet that describes their home and family, including the age of their children, the languages they speak, the places they've visited and their occupations and hobbies, for example.

Clients must call or visit the local travel information office in the city or town they want to visit and fill out an application. The application must be made at least 24 hours in advance, and all visits are made between 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. The local travel information center uses the profile and application to match guests with common interests and English speakers with English speakers.

One tip: It is customary to bring small gifts when visiting a Japanese home, so pick up something such as an American baseball cap and/or a box of chocolates.

The home visits are available in the Japanese cities of Narita, Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Otsu, Shirahama, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Kurashiki, Okayama, Mihara, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Kumamoto, Nagasaki, Miyazaki and Kagoshima.

To receive a free Home Visit System brochure, contact the local office of the Japan National Tourist Organization either by telephone or by e-mail: (212) 757-5640 in New York (e-mail [email protected]); (312) 222-0874 in Chicago ([email protected]); (213) 623-1952 in Los Angeles ([email protected]); (415) 989-7140 in San Francisco ([email protected]), or (416) 366-7140 in Toronto ([email protected]).

The JNTO has a site on the World Wide Web at http://www.jnto.go.jp.

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