Jul 26, 2018

Entertaining international visitors - even when you live in a small town!

During your time as an expat in Japan, it's likely that you're going to have plenty of people from back home who want to come and pay you a visit. We lived in Tokyo for four years, and when we lived in the city there was no shortage of touristy things to do and see. Living in the country though made me think "are the people who come to visit us out here going to be bored?"

Not at all! In fact, everyone who has come to visit us out here have had fantastic experiences, even going so far as to say that our little Niigata town has provided some of their best memories in Japan. 

If you are living in a smaller dot on the map here in Japan, and wondering what to do with your guests, here are some of the things we've found helpful to remember.

Your town probably has a host of stuff to do that you've never thought about through the eyes of a tourist

That temple or shrine you walk past every day might now seem like a fairly regular sight when you've lived here a while, but for guests from back home it can be an absolute wonder to see one up close. Getting to experience the beauty and the traditions of these places can be really special for visitors.

Entertaining international visitors - even when you live in a small town! photo

Our local temple is something we walk past regularly - and sometimes it can be easy to forget the magic that places like this hold for international visitors!

You may just not have had the chance to look at your town through the eyes of a tourist, either. When we first had guests from overseas come to see us here in Niigata, we did some research into where we could take them locally. We found out that we have an awesome ropeway that gives you fantastic views over our region, and a sake brewery that you can tour! We wouldn't have necessarily have known about these ourselves if we hadn't had guests in town.

Entertaining international visitors - even when you live in a small town! photo

Views going up the Hakkaisan Ropeway, showing off the gorgeous natural beauty of our Niigata home.

A simple trip to the 100 yen store or even the supermarket can be enjoyable (and fascinating!)

If you're anything like me, when you first moved to Japan, going to the local Daiso or checking out all the fun candy and snack foods in the supermarket or convenience store was a bunch of fun. Your guests will probably find that to be the case, too! Every time we take a visitor to the 100 yen store, they're often exclaiming "wait - all this stuff is only 100 yen a piece?"

Entertaining international visitors - even when you live in a small town! photo

Don't forget that simple things can still provide plenty of fun for your visitors - like trips to the 100 yen store!

Remember that ultimately, they're here to see you

Sure, you might be stressing out about ways to "entertain" the people that come and visit you, but ultimately they're making the trip out to Japan to see you and your family. Of course, getting to show them unique aspects of Japan is an added bonus, but your everyday life here is likely to still be fun and interesting to them.



After spending the last several years in the beating heart of Tokyo, I will be spending the next three in the countryside of Japan. I adore this country and all it has to offer - and I'm always learning more and more about life here as I go along!