An AIRBNB Vacation: 11 Days of Stays and Experiences in Japan

You can do a vacation. Or, you can do an Airbnb vacation!

Eleven days, three Airbnb Experiences and three different Airbnb apartments in Tokyo and neighboring Yokohama.

What a way to experience Tokyo and the immediate part of Japan. The biggest reason I like Airbnb stays is to immerse myself into a neighborhood. I’m not a big fan of most “tourist” hotels in most cities. They’re expensive, crowded and don’t offer the amenities of home (kitchen, dishes, laundry, etc.). Renting an apartment or home from an Airbnb host helps get you deep into many unique areas of the world. In this case, Tokyo is so rich in experiences,, you can’t help but take part. Airbnb Experiences were a great way to get a close-up look of life in Tokyo from locals!

So, away we go!. First the Experiences and then the stays!

EXPERIENCE: TSUKIJI FISH MARKET TOUR AND FRESH SASHIMI (More) 

There are a lot of tours of Tsukiji Fish Market. You may have heard  about the famous 4am fish auctions! It’s a site to see! What I didn’t realize is there are several layers to the market. An outer market is readily available to tourists. A middle market is as well. But, to get to the inner market, you need to be an approved “vendor”/buyer or have a special invitation.

With the help of our AirBNB Experience host,  Toshi, touring the inner market was the highlight of a four-hour experience. This is my favorite video – learning to properly cut fresh tuna from a vendor in the inner market.

FullSizeRender-8From his host page, we leaned in advance that Toshi runs “a small cafe and cycling shop in Asakusa, where we have long held “Fish Days” for customers on Tuesdays and Fridays. I have a special connection to the wholesaler at the Tsukiji market, where I go to buy fish for this event.” That’s your ticket to the inner market which many tourists will never see.

Toshi is a lovable, laugh-filled guy who works really hard to engage with his guests. He’s always snapping photos of you and the group. After lunch, he used AirDrop to deliver us more than 100 photos of the experience.

FullSizeRenderWhile in the inner market, we met an amazing man. He’s 81 years old. He’s only ever worked in a small 6 x 8 feet space in the market. Ever. Never worked anywhere else and never plans to retire. Imagine that. He was just as active and eager as the young 40- and 50-somethings hustling about.

The tours of the fish market layers and the lunch that followed were top of the line. Did I mentioned there is ice cream after your fresh shashimi? The only critical feedback I provided to Toshi afterwards was the 90 minutes it took to tour a local shrine and travel between the market and his shop. Any tourist could see the shrine. His “experience” to share could have been perfect focused only on the fish market and lunch.

One more thing – no photos or videos in the inner market unless you have permission from the individual operator you are visiting. So, I quietly rolled some video of the hustle just before stepping into the more private areas of the inner market.

OVERALL: My review/feedback for the host:  “Great experience. The highlights were the inner market tour and the plentiful sashimi served for lunch. The only downside was the shrine tour which I could have done on my own and saved an hour.”

EXPERIENCE: LEARNING TO MAKE SUSHI (More)

What a shot in the dark as to whether I would like this experience. I had never eaten sushi – ever. Now, I was learning to make it! The class was small, 5 people. Guests were all from the U.S. – California, Utah and Washington, D.C. All fun people.

LEARN TO MAKE RAMEN FROM SCRATCH. Book a private class now. Go to: TheStoryofRamen.com

Our host Kazuki was fully engaged and patient! In addition to learning to form sushi, we learned his favorite food is American-style pizza and McDonald’s hamburgers. I guess Tokyo doesn’t have those shops on every corner! While you don’t get to actually cut the meat into the super thin slices, you do get to form various types of sushi then enjoy your work at the end of the class. It really is much more sushi that I thought I could ever eat in one meal.

OVERALL: My review/feedback for the host: “A very fun experience! The host did a great job of keeping everyone engaged. Plus, he remained patient as some struggled to assemble their sushi. The funny and casual nature also made the experience very enjoyable. The two hour time investment was just right!”

EXPERIENCE: LEARNING TO MAKE UDON NOODLES (More)

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The experience is tucked away in a small bookstore in the Sumida ku area of Tokyo. At first, you  may wonder what this experience is really about. But our host Fujita explained she also has a kitchen in the back of her friend’s small store. So, you get used to making noodles in the middle of a bookstore! But seriously, the host is a sweet woman who works quickly to walk you through the ingredients, how to measure them and how to make both the udon noodles and the broth.

If you have never made udon noodles, this is a key step!

FullSizeRender-5Instead of kneading as you would with Italian pasta doughs,  you actually stomp on the dough tucked into a plastic ziplock bag. Our host did a wonderful job of making us feel comfortable in the space and walking us through the techniques of two regional versions of udon. Making a guest, even tourists, feel comfortable seems to be part of the Japanese culture. READ: The White Umbrella: A Learning Experience in Being Polite in Japan

FullSizeRender-7OVERALL: Here is the feedback I left for the host, “A fun and intimate experience. The host seemed a bit shy at first but really connect with the guests and the event continued. By the end she felt like someone you had known for a while or want to sit and talk with longer. The noodles were great. The food overall was very food. A very positive experience.”

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Courtesy: Airbnb

AIRBNB STAYS: SHINJUKU-KU (2+Bedrooms) (More)

When you rent anything in Tokyo, expect small spaces and plenty of chances to sleep 6-10-14 people. In this instance, the space and apartment were tremendous! The two bedrooms are separated from each other in the unit. It’s a great space for a small group of people. The kitchen was nice size and furnished. We cooked several meals at home. The living area was spacious for an apartment in Tokyo. The balcony also gives you a chance to take your coffee in the morning!

For me, the best thing about this apartment in addition to the size was the location. The neighborhood is active. And, it’s very close to JR Station and mass transit. That makes it very easy to to get anywhere in Tokyo.

Some online reviews cite concerns in the building about whether apartments can be rented through Airbnb. There are signs prohibiting it. But I had no problems at all. No one asked. I came and went as a “local”.

OVERALL: Now, the review I left the host: “Great place! Great location. Very clean! Perfect for at least 4-6 guests. You could do more as well. But we had three guests and it was perfect. The host answered questions quickly. She was very easy to work with. I would definitely recommend this apartment!!”

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Courtesy: Airbnb

AIRBNB STAYS: YOKOHAMA-SHI (2+Bedrooms) (More)

In Yokohama, about 30 minutes by train southwest of Tokyo, this apartment was clean, spacious, easy to find and even offered a great patio with a view of the city. The host had plenty of extras (cooking supplies, etc) on hand. I liked this space as it was tucked in an older residential area of Yokohama. If you visit, you may be tempted to stay and play in quickly growing new Yokohama. It is a spectacular site to see and reminds me of the growth in Dubia (perhaps on a smaller scale).  READYokohama: A “Quaint Little Fishing Village” in Japan?

Yokohama is where I also discovered a great small bar on an opposite corner from the city’s 30-thousand seat baseball stadium. The Olympics will arrive here in 2020. READ: Take Route 66 to Flashback Cafe for 2020 Olympic Baseball and Softball

OVERALL: Now, the review I left the host: “This is a great place. Easy to access. A short walk to the train station. A beautiful apartment. It was very much as described. The deck was beyond the description. It was clean and organized. We would love to stay here again! Much much better than the AirBNB that we left in Tokyo. This was such a pleasant apartment.”

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Courtesy: Airbnb

AIRBNB STAYS:  SHINJUKU-KU (2+Bedrooms) (More)

Shinjuku-ku is a great area. It’s a slice of life outside of the major tourist areas of Tokyo. This apartment is tucked away off one of the main streets. To experience this part of this city, it’s a great apartment. The photos show a wonderful space but when we arrived, it need some additional cleaning especially in the bathroom. But overall, this was a nice apartment to explore the area. You have plenty of small alleyways to get into some of the more tourist-driven spots of Tokyo. I prefer to walk to as many areas as possible even if it’s a two to three mile walk.

OVERALL: Now the review I left the host: “Great location! Nice size apartment as well. The ad references sleeping 14. Technically it can but could be cramped. We slept 4 and it was perfectly suited. I provided the host some private feedback about a late cleaning crew and cleanliness. But, overall it was a good place to stay. The host was also very responsive in general to all of my questions.”

 

CLICK HERE: LEARN TO MAKE RAMEN FROM SCRATCH. Book a private class now. Also great for company team-building, birthday parties, bachelorette parties or just a get-together with friends.

TOKYO FOOD AND DRINK SLIDESHOW

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UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED, ALL PHOTOS AND VIDEOS ARE EXCLUSIVE PROPERTY OF JEFF PARSONS. Any reprints, re-use is forbidden without express written agreement in advance. Contact: Jeff.TVNews@gmail.com 

 

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