Thursday, 23 February 2012

Couch Surfing Success in Osaka, Japan

My entry into my couch surfing host's guestbook

Stop the presses! I am a couch surfing convert. I know, I know, I can be snobbish and a bit of a wimp when it comes to "roughing it". I turn my nose up at hostels and "budget accommodations" but for this trip to Japan I figured to either go big or go home. Couch surfing isn't revolutionary but it's not anything I envisioned was for me, for one, I typically travel solo and as woman I have personal safety concerns and  two, I don't like everybody. LOL This may not come as a surprise to many of you, but random people usually annoy me.


It was clear that my host has a Star Wars Problem: This is his Storm Trooper Costume on display in the sitting room

So why couch surfing now? Until fairly recently I thought couch surfing was only for hippies and broke gap year students. As I began socializing with more people who travel as a lifestyle, I learned that people from all walks of life and interest host and surf. Some of the best people I know swear by couch surfing, holding the concept in high regard and swear by it. It's free, it's global, and it gives instant access to a potential friend in your destination city. I thought Japan would an excellent opportunity to try, given the overall cost of visiting and how much Japanese culture differed from my own.

My gracious host and camera assistant, Masaki at the Osaka Castle

My host Masaki is an excellent example of a couch surfing rockstar. He has only been hosting for a year and has opened his home to dozens of both solo travelers and couples from all over the world. I knew I would be in good hands because his couch surfing profile was filled with tons of recommendations and kind words. He happened to have a day off on Wednesday and took me on a tour of Osaka. 

Here are some pictures from the day.

Osaka is MASSIVE, we spent a lot of time walking and taking the subway (and taking pictures of strangers)
Osaka Castle
Piping hot Octopus Balls, I ate a disproportionate amount of octopus while in Osaka.
Bird man at the castle. I found it ironic he wears a germ mask but handles flying rats
The Glica man seen from Ebisubashi Bridge in Namba
Dotonbori area, where people come for the best food in Osaka
Dinner time, more octopus and a pancake thingy with cabbage and egg, and noodles which were the bomb.com

After dinner we burned some calories singing karaoke into the night. It was a great time and worthy of a post
Having Masaki as my host gave me access to a side of Osaka I would have never seen on my own. Although we did the  tourist things, I wouldn't have ventured down streets like these or gone where locals go

This morning as I was packing up and prepping for Kyoto and I started crying. I was so overwhelmed that a perfect stranger invited me into his home, showed me around his city and asked for nothing in return. (yes, snobs do cry! :)) I am touched and in a way changed by Masaki's generosity. I plan on couch surfing for a bit in Tokyo and in the future, I warn all future host, you have a lot to live up to.

 Arigato, Masaki !!!

Have you ever tried couch surfing? Would you? Why or why not? 

For more pictures throughout the day check out my Facebook fan page. Also I have a contest going on sponsored by LUXE City Guides. Be sure to enter.

13 comments:

  1. Nicole, I love this. You have no idea how your posts from Japan are keeping me going (and giving me ideas) until my trip in April. Ive toyed with the idea of couch surfing, but haven't taken the plunge yet. AFter reading this, I'M DOING IT!! Thanks, girl. Travel safe.

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  2. Been meaning to try CouchSurfing! Seeing your photos of octopus made me remember how I threw one into my mouth and burned the whole roof of my mouth. :) Glad you're enjoying beautiful Japan.

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  3. I'm glad you gave it a try, its a great way to get to know some amazing people!!

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  4. Oh it sounds fun, I have thought about it but never have had the chance to try it. I think one I start taking trips that are not grouped based I will be more open to couch surfing. Looks like you had a great time, and I love your pics.

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  5. Couch Surfing? Want to try, but am terrified of waking up dead...and having my friends and family say, "I told that crazy girl, bout that mess."

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    1. that is what i ALWAYS thought... i mean i am scared to death of hostels because of the movie nicole you brave as hell girl i always think i will wake up a sex slave in Uganda or something LOL

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  6. I've always wanted to try couch surfing but am terrified at the thought of staying at a strangers home. But I don't mind meeting new people through couchsurfing and having coffee.

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  7. I too, would be a very reluctant Couch Surfer, but seems you took the right approach and did your "homework" before taking the plunge! I do love visiting Osaka, but i'm much more in love with the wonderful traditional sites of Kyoto! I can't wait to read and see your photos from the old Capitol! Oh and I also do love okonomiyaki (the octopus,cabbage pancake thing!)

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  8. I haven't tried it yet, but we just signed up a month or so ago. I think hosting would be just as much fun as surfing, to be honest. Looking forward to trying it, and if you're ever in Houston or headed to Brazil let us know. We'll be glad to let you surf with us!

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  9. Scared to death! A co worker suggested that she and I do it, and I backed out of the trip. Violent incident in my history makes me afraid that I'll meet someone with "ulterior" motives, and here I am in a strange city with different laws. I admire people whom can do it though and I imagine it is very economical. Maybe I can overcome my fear and give it a shot. Recommendations would be the best thing!

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  10. Wow Nicole, I'm like you really funny about divey places and random people but you really show another perspective about couch surfing. Your Osaka journey sounds wonderful and I know it was partly because of your host. I never considered it before but I'm now open to the possibility. Thanks!

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  11. I heard about couch surfing few years ago, I even registered. But I haven't hosted anybody or surfed on anyone's couch. I think I would prefer to surf on a female's couch and have a nearby hostel's contact as a back up. Women have to be careful though, I heard a french girl was raped by her host in some country. Regardless, I think it's worth trying!

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  12. Oh, gorgeous pictures, I lived in Osaka for two years so I love seeing pictures that remind me of that great time! Couchsurfing would be great in Japan, might have to try next time I go!

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