When trying to book hostels for Christmas in Hokkaido, we ran into a glaring problem: everything in our price-range was booked. After much panicking and researching 24-hour McDonald’s, Carolyn and I decided to give couchsurfing.org a try.
For those who don’t know, you basically get to crash on the couch of someone you don’t know on the good faith that their recommendations are truthful. It’s actually a very well organized, thorough site. So far, everyone we’ve met through there has been nothing shy of amazing.
Long story short, a couch surfer in Hokkaido saved us from sleeping under newspapers on Christmas. She let us stay in her English studio and was so amazingly hospitable the whole time. Our host was a lovely lady from Britain who’d been in Japan nearly 20 years. She new all the fun stuff to do, and was well stocked on fantastic tea. We couldn’t've done better if we’d wanted to.
Another local couch surfer couldn’t host us but was more than willing to meet up for drinks at a tiny, amazingly cheap izakaya in the city center. She also brought a friend along, both girls sporting amazing English and a fantastic sense of humor.
Not long after our fun in Hokkaido, we met a trio of couch-surfing French staying with a friend of a friend in Tokyo. They joined us to ring in the New Years at the Tokyo Tower. This is, of course, where I discovered that I don’t know French! Shocker.
Needless to say, couch surfing has become one of my new favorite ways to travel and make friends!