My husband and I made a trip to Japan in April 2016 and it was the best trip we’ve ever had in our life. It holds a special part in our hearts that no other country will ever replace. I will be talking about our amazing trip in another post though. I wanted to talk about our experience about our first time using Airbnb. We had heard about this awesome website before, but we were a little skeptical about renting someone’s home or room. We decided to try it out for our Japan trip though because we’ve always heard about Japan being a “safe” country. We gave it a go and it turned out to be such an amazing experience! We really felt like we were actually living in Japan and with my husband’s basic Japanese we were able to go around neighborhoods with more ease than I would’ve ever imagined.
First off, let me just say that we rented two Airbnb places in Tokyo and we did this because we were going to South Korea after being a few days in Tokyo then we were coming back to Japan. We wanted to get the feel of two different types of neighborhoods in Tokyo.
When we arrived in Japan it was extremely cold and we weren’t that covered up. We found a foreigner, who happened to live in Japan, on the train to Tokyo from Narita Airport and she was nice enough to guide us in the right direction and get on the train to go to our Airbnb. By the way, we noticed Japanese people will try their hardest to help you with anything as long as you start the conversation in Japanese. Don’t walk up to a Japanese person and start speaking to them in English and expect them to want to speak it back (Remember you are in their country!). Most Japanese people are very shy and you might intimidate them. Once they see you trying your hardest in their language, they will start trying to speak back to you and probably in English. Most do know how to speak English, but are shy, so once they see you trying they will try also. Anyways, back to what we were talking about. Once we found the Airbnb apartment the one thing I was terrified that would happen, happened. It was midnight already and we were outside the apartment building, but there was no host. We texted him multiple times and there was no answer, but what really upset me was that I was texting him through Line (a free texting app used a lot in Asia) and I could see he was seeing my texts because the app tells you when the other person has read the message. I went into our Airbnb website and looked him up (he had plenty of good reviews btw) to message him through there as well when I noticed he was Korean. I know a little Korean and can read and understand the little words I know, so I decided to text him in Korean through the Line app. To my surprise he answered and gave us the number to text another guy, which would have the key to the apartment. This was all OUTSIDE of the building, in the cold, with our bags, standing up and past midnight already. My husband saw a few people go in the building, so we followed and at least stayed in the lobby area (with no seats) as we texted the other guy. Turns out the other guy wouldn’t answer either, by now I was hungry tired and extremely pissed off. I tried the same thing and texted him in Korean and waited another 30 minutes. I told my husband we’d have to get a hotel at this point because I wasn’t going to spend the night in some cold seatless empty lobby area after a 12 hour flight. The guy finally answered and said he’d be there in about 15 minutes and when he finally showed up he deeply apologized saying he had confused us with another couple who had given him some trouble with booking. I thought, how could he confuse us with another couple if he didn’t even bother replying to our texts and even asking us who we were! Anyways, once he showed us the apartment I put my anger and frustration aside and started looking everywhere and admiring how pretty and new everything was. The whole building was modern looking and looked pretty new and just like the pictures in their Airbnb profile.
Other things we liked about this Airbnb was that the subway was right across the street as well as a seven-eleven which you could honestly find in any and every corner in Tokyo. There was also a McDonald’s in the corner when walking to the left of the apartment and if you turned right from the McDonald’s than you can find a whole street of Korean restaurants. My husband and I assumed it was a Korean neighborhood in Tokyo as we saw many Koreans around that area as well as many Korean tenants in the building we were staying at. We did try a few of the restaurants and they were very good, so definitly recommend staying around the Shinjuku area.
The Second apartment was in a different area in Shinjuku which was surprisingly far from the first apartment. Our host was so kind and very specific with instructions on how to get to her apartement. She even emailed us a map with pictures on which subway line to get and of the roads from the subway station to the apartment. It was truly helpful as we do not know the language and would take us a while to find someone for help. This Airbnb apartment was in a residential area, so we were asked to be as quiet as possible at night and there was a nice neighbor who was kind enough to help us get our luggage in the lobby area.
We arrived about 1am and were so hungry, but we didn’t know where we could possibly find something opened in such a residential area. Lucky for us Tomoko, our lovely host, had 2 booklets on her T.V. table (one in Manderin and the other in English). It had directions for all the buttons in the apartment (everything was in Japanese) and the last few pages had suggestions on places she recommends eating at around the area. What I loved most though, was her brief decription on what type of food the place serves, why she likes it, the directions and what times they were opened! It was so sweet that she took her time to make that awesome booklet. She had a variety of restauarants so her guests could choose from depending on the times they arrived. We found 2 restaurants that were opened till late or early lol, since it was about 2am by the time we were ready to head out. The restaurant was in a very high hilly street and to our surprise there were many more restaurants in the area that were opened. My husband and I knew it had to be good because of how many locals there were inside. The way to order was through a machine outside the restaurant. Of course everything was in Japanese, so we had to translate the dishes haha. We had no one behind us so we were able to take our time. Once we were done you’d click the button for the plate you wanted and you were seated inside to wait for your food and drink. It was truly wonderful and such a unique experience we would definitly recommend doing Airbnb through Japan! NOTE: please do your research as I’ve heard the Japanese are not happy with the whole Airbnb concept! Our trip was in April 2016 and Airbnb was rather new, but recently they have had some issues with Airbnb in Japan.