a sushi on a plate

There’s nothing like the thrill of discovery through food. But when you eat in a crowded city center, you’re not always getting the genuine, home style, delicious goodness that gives you a true sense of discovery, and you’re certainly not learning how to make it yourself.

You want the genuine article, or at least an insight into how locals live, and in Japan, there’s a service making that fun. Air Kitchen is like an Airbnb for meals, and for less than a typical night out costs, it allows you to enjoy a cooking class or home style meal with an actual Japanese local in their home, or private setting.

Think everything from green tea ceremonies to sushi making classes and traditional family dinners.

Naturally, anything drawing comparison to Airbnb will become an Airbnb feature, and this concept now has. Airbnb has added 109 “new” cooking experiences to its “Experiences” Platform, going into direct competition with Air Kitchen. Chances are, either will get you what you’re looking for, but Air Kitchen seems to have kept lower prices, based on appealing to more plugged in crowds. Comparatively, Air Kitchen offers 386 Tokyo based cooking experiences to Airbnb’s 109.

a graffiti on a wallBut these experiences extend beyond Tokyo as well. Osaka, Kyoto, Hokkaido and Fukuoka all offer similar opportunities with both platforms, creating culinary discovery all over this fabulous foodie country. In a year where more people will visit Japan than ever, it’s quite exciting to have unique opportunities and experiences that take you beyond the simple restaurant setting.

And yes, thankfully you’ll know whether your host speaks your language in advance. Awkward…

What’s particularly exciting is the variation between opportunities. There’s an experience to make your own noodles and gyoza from scratch, another to learn the art of bento box, plenty teaching sushi making in a home setting – with sake, and okonomiyaki as well.

Each experience on both platforms specifies whether it’s 1:1, with a small group and all the other elements involved, such as drinks included or allergies.

So how expensive are we talking? It totally varies by the experience. Each host is able to set their own price and control “the show”, so you’ll find everything from nights under 2000 yen (about $18) to some up to 10x that amount or more. Whether you go via Airbnb Experiences or Air Kitchen, it’s hard to think of a neater way to make friends and learn true Japanese food.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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