I am Rui from Air-log house and this is where I share my experience with the guests who stayed at my house as ‘Airbnb’.
Today I want to share with you an unexpected experience I had when I was hanging out with the guests recently.
First of all, let me introduce the guests!
This is Thomas, 21year old from France.
He is an engineering student who has mastered programming.
He is also currently studying Japanese and this is his second time visiting Japan.
He has been staying at the air-log house for a good long 2-week stay.
(He even has a job offer for 2 months at a famous Japanese company in Tokyo from July.
I went out for drinks in Izakayas with him so many times now.
We have become really good buddies!
Thomas loves the Japanese MUJI.
One morning he said he’s going to hang around in Shibuya, and he came back with some MUJI stationaries.
So I recommended him to go to Shimokitazawa for the afternoon, but he came back with another shopping bag from MUJI!
Shimokitazawa is nice for vintage clothes and cafes, not MUJI Thomas!
Rosieis British but raised in LA, and now lives in UK.
So she is a duo-passport holder and is a freelance journalist.
Although she has visited other Asian countries before, this is her first time in Japan.
(She stayed this Airbnb room)
She was especially surprised how good and cheap the food is at Japanese convenient stores.
Working as a journalist, she is currently studying about Youtubers living in Japan.
I don’t know too well about the Japanese Youtubers, but I recommended her some of the top Japanese Youtubers such as Hikakin and Hajime Shacho.
One day, Rosie said she wants to go to Izakaya in Kichijoji.
From the photo it doesn’t look so special (from a Japanese person’s point of view) and it’s at a good 10-mins walking distance from the station. I was wondering why this Izakaya is so special but we decided to go anyway.
The Izakaya is called BAKAWARAI.
But when we went inside… surprisingly it was packed with foreigners!
I was very surprised.
According to the owner, this place got famous and lots of foreigners started coming after it was introduced by famous Canadian Youtubers, Simon & Martina.
This is their video.
Since Rosie is studying about Youtubers, she saw this video and got interested in going to this Izakaya.
Anyways we had some drinks with Sashimi and Yakisoba and Yakitori.
Thomas is now used to Izakaya from going to Izakayas alone 3 times already, but Rosie really enjoyed the Japanese Izakaya culture.
While we were there Rosie asked me ‘What is the difference between Izakayas and restaurants?’ and I answered (as a representative of Japan lol),
・Izakaya is a place where you order a few small dishes and drink and have fun with your friends
・Izakaya is a casual place and where you can talk behind your boss’s back while drinking with your co-workers.
So the Izakaya was a ‘delicious-fun’ place with good food and lively staff like shown in the video I mentioned!
No wonder why it’s so popular among foreigners.
If you are an Airbnb host, please do recommend this place to your guests. They might know this place.
As we were making our way to the station, Rosie screamed.
‘Oh my god!’
What a surprise, we met Simon&Martina!!
Even Thomas was surprised about this.
We were telling them how we were just at the Izakaya they introduced in their video.
They told us that they used to work as English teachers in South Korea, and now have the 2-year visa and live in Kichijoji.
I’m sure they will get famous in Japan as well, now that they live in Tokyo.
So this is the miracle of Airbnb.
I call this ‘Airbnb magic’ and this is why I can’t get enough of being a host of Airbnb!
This experience made me realize once again how fun Airbnb is.
Thank you Thomas and Rosie!!
Rosie wrote such a wonderful sentence and provided me(Because 3month before, I gave discount for her, but I forgot it lol)
When I read this amazing story, I felt happy and want to share with people around the world!
Please check this out.
Last month, when I told people at home that I was preparing for a three week solo trip to Japan, I got some shocked responses. How and why would you do that? Won’t you be lonely? How will you know what to do? And where to go?
I can’t be sure, but I reckon these naysayers are the types of people who have never stayed in a place like Rui & Ken’s.
Rui and Ken run a simple but lovely Airbnb guest house in Suginami, residential neighborhood that is an easy 25 minute journey from Tokyo’s insanely overstimulating Shinjuku / Shibuya area. The cute, two story house has three bedrooms, two communal bathrooms, a lounge/kitchen, and is located atop a hill in a quiet neighborhood that’s studded by vending machines. My room was tatami mat style, with a traditional Japanese futon bed, and a cute little balcony.
As a frequent traveller, I have a pretty good sense of what makes a good Airbnb before I book it, and Rui & Ken’s listing hit all the usual criteria: well-lit pictures, close to public transport, wifi, a washing machine, coffee/tea, a kitchen, and relatively young hosts. But what really indicates a good Airbnb is how long it takes to feel acquainted once you arrive.
Upon my arrival, Ken pointed out the nearest convenience store and told me that the wifi password was “asahibeer.” In the instruction booklet given to their guests, my hosts had included “recommended ramen” emojis on the neighborhood map. Once my shoes were removed, my devices connected to wifi, and my inaugural convenience store trip completed, I felt like I been living in this flat share for months. It’s funny how small things like that can make you feel at home.
One of my favorite ways to get a feel for a new place is get up early, and staying in Rui and Ken’s neighborhood was no different. On my second morning, I went for a run along the canal and found myself gliding under dozens of cherry blossom trees in full bloom, with their organic confetti being the only pieces of litter floating on the pristine canal. My fellow running companions were mostly elderly Japanese women who seemed to be in tip top shape. The second time I went running, one of them even gave me a wave, which made me very happy. During these morning explorations, I saw little school children in matching yellow bucket hats walking to school in parallel line formation (universal truth: children in school uniforms are adorable). I also discovered the sheer perfection that is Family Mart’s 110 yen, machine-dispensed iced coffee, complete with creamer and simple sugar syrup in little individual pots. Simple pleasures, right?
Thomas, the French guest who has been to Tokyo before, took me to his favorite gyoza spot, told me the best cafe to work from (Freeman Cafe in Shibuya), and informed me I was buying metro tickets the wrong way (thanks, Thomas). Rui introduced me to fatally moreish fried squid snacks and answered my questions about Japanese YouTube and sophisticated conbini snack trends. Can and her mom, who were fellow guests visiting from Hong Kong, insisted on feeding me a second dinner when they had leftover food (it was entirely gratuitous, but I did not resist).
I think the best part of staying in a place like Rui and Ken’s is how you don’t have to try very hard to get the kind of authentic experience that, in other cases, people pay lots of money to try and attain. I’ve been in Tokyo for a week and not opened a single guidebook or paid for a touristic experience of any kind. Throughout my time in Sugniami, I haven’t seen any other foreigners, and the neighborhood folk have pretty much treated me with indifference, as they should. I’ve eaten in the local izakayas, sampled the recommended ramen spots, and can provide a comprehensive review of the merits of each convenience store chain in the area. After spending my days navigating labyrinthine metro stations and taking in the spectacular sensory assault that is Tokyo, I was immensely happy to return to this quiet, peaceful spot atop the hill.
For me, the joy of travel is not found by visiting tourist attractions, but rather in the little micro routines that you get to stake out in a new place. I like to pretend I might never leave and will effortlessly become a local. It’s incredibly cliche to say—but it’s also entirely true—but staying at a place like Rui and Ken’s makes being in a strange city by yourself feel completely normal.
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