Enjoying the couchsurfing network in Tokyo
Couchsurfing is a fantastic network of people that wants to make new friends all over the world. The main idea is that one can “surf” other peoples couches for free although there are many more ways to utilize this network. Personally I host guests about 3-4 times a year. On top of that I might meet up with people visiting my city a few times a year if any interesting proposals turns up. For me it is all about quality, some people use CS differently. I have also tried to be hosted a few times. Being a guest in someones private home is a way of getting closer to a culture and getting to know things about a place that you never would have discovered on your own. But it naturally requests adaptation to your hosts schedule and rules. Since I like to come and go and plan my own day I don´t use this so often.
There are groups in the CS network that you can belong to. When I went to Tokyo I became a member of the Tokyo group where people (as well Tokyo residents as tourists) are posting events which one can sign up for. This is an excellent way to get to know people and the city. I signed up for three things however the last activity I ended up doing on my own, (I will get back to that). The first activity was an evening out with food and Karaoke. At a busy station in central Tokyo about 10 people of different nationality, ages and backgrounds gathered. The local people choose a restaurant (Izakaya style described at the end of my last post), where we ended up having a splendid evening. Couchsurfers are open minded individuals just looking for new acquaintances and fun. Unfortunately I had to catch my last metro back to the area where I had my hostel. So once more I missed out on singing Karaoke in Tokyo…(I did not manage on my first trip to Tokyo either… )
A Japanese girl had added an activity which appealed to me. She was going herself to a disaster preparation center in Tokyo. I have learnt that there are a few of those, held by the Tokyo Fire Department. It is recomended that Japanese people visit those to learn how to prepare for disaster. To this particular event three other people except for me and the organizer signed up. Another Japanese guy, a guy from India and a girl from Sri Lanka. The event included a movie about the disaster that hit Japan March 2011. This was followed by an earthquake experience on Richter 7 and information (in Japanese) about allways being prepared and how to act in case of earthquake. We then got information about fire (in Japanese) and the possibility to practice using a firehose. Then, fully dressed in rain protection, we could try heavy rain and wind. Finally there was a fire exercise (which I skipped due to my claustrophobia) where one should find the way in a smoke filled dark labyrint…
The same day yet another nice activity was organized. A walk over the rainbow bridge with a group of people. I didn´t manage to get to the meeting point in time so I simply did the walk on my own which was a great experience too. After this walk, still pretty jetlagged from my arrival the day before, I took a nap on a park bench on the other side 😉 Great start of my Japan adventures!