Meeting people on your travels is definitely one of the most rewarding parts of the experience. They’re the memories that last the longest, and the connections that you can actively revisit. Here are three great options to meet people and experience life as a local.
WhyNot!?Japan. Remember their name, because you’re sure to see a brochure or two about them in the hostels you stay at. WhyNot!? is a well-established figure in Japan, having been in operation since 2005. That’s nearly 15 years of successful operations – something worth saying “wow” to. They’re one of the major event organizers in the Kansai region, which encompasses Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe. One of the biggest attendees of WhyNot!? events are local Japanese people, so it’s an excellent way to meet the folk that want to share their country’s nightlife and city experiences with visitors.
If you’re interested in attending one of WhyNot!?’s events, you’re almost always in luck: they’re every week from Thursday to Sunday, which is at least four events a week from you to choose from. The events are usually themed. Some are events for singles, others for language-learning purposes, and some for the tried-and-tested benefits of simply having a good time. Speaking of which, their famous Halloween party is coming up soon. If you’re in Osaka during Halloween, you’re going to want to make sure you attend this event. It’s usually at one of the best clubs in downtown Osaka and it’s the place to be during Halloween. If you know you’re travelling in Japan during this time, we recommend subscribing to their mailing list to get all the news when you need it.
Another thing you may want to consider is joining one of their tours which are aimed at visiting areas popular with local tourists, and less known by international tourists. Places such as Tottori Prefecture and Okayama Prefecture. Heard of Tottori before? Thought not. Should you visit it? Absolutely. On July 27th and 28th, WhyNot!?Japan is hosting an adventure trip to these two beautiful prefectures, where you’ll enjoy river trekking, mountain climbing, a river hot spring, and an all-you-can-drink party. Bus ride included. If you’re interested and available, head on over to their website and book a spot.
Doot Experiences is a social dining company that organizes dinner meetups at non-commerical restaurants in Japan (and soon…Italy!). The aim of every dinner is to meet up and socialize with locals and travellers alike, bonding over amazing food at restaurants few non-locals have heard of. There’s nothing that brings us together quite like food. As Doot commonly says, “Come as a stranger, leave as a friend”.
Beyond the friendships that Doot creates, and introducing local connections to make travel more authentic and personal, they’re super passionate about eating authentic and local food at small establishments. They reject chain stores such as Ippudo or Ichiran ramen – which everyone finds out about with a basic online search – in favour of the kind of places you’d discover in Osaka’s “hidden district”.
Some dinners include food with a set menu and others simply have a booking fee and allow you to order what you’d like on the evening. Some dinner events will tell you the restaurant name upfront, and others will keep it a secret up until a day or two before. Here’s an insider tip: the restaurants where the name is hidden are the best ones, with their name concealed so as to avoid them becoming overtly popular.
After booking a dinner, Doot actually puts you into a WhatsApp group together with your fellow diners, so you can talk a bit before the event and break the ice beforehand. It’s a great time!
Doot Experiences is supported by the Kobe City Government, has partnerships with local tourism bureaus, major hotel and hostel groups in Japan such as the Crowne Plaza, and has been quoted in Forbes, VentureBurn and Disrupt Africa.
Friend Theory is a fantastic startup that connects you to friends of friends while you’re travelling, allowing you to meet, stay, socialize with, or get advice from locals around the world that are trusted by your own friends. Remember the cool person from New York you met at a beach bar one night in Vietnam? Your friends could stay with or meet them too, should they be in the NY area. Likewise, that friendly Japanese economics student that your friend met and had a couple of drinks with in Tokyo? You could be staying, socializing, eating or seeing the city with them too on your upcoming trip to Japan. If your friends from home approve and had a good time, it’s likely you will too.
The best thing about Friend Theory is that it’s connecting you to the regular, real locals of each city. The same fun people that your friends took their time to know and hang around. Friend Theory host are not guides that are paid to see you. They’re normal, sociable people that like meeting other travelers and showing them the type of things that they’d like to experience when they’re travelling.
It’s worth noting that Friend Theory is available worldwide. so you can use it wherever you’re travelling. And hey, guess what? If you sign up to Friend Theory (it’s free), you’ll get a 30% discount on all Doot Experiences. Simply take a screenshot of your profile on Friend Theory, tag @doot.app in the photo on Instagram and you’ll be eligible for a discount. Winning. #PartnerTheory