Japan’s Kitchhike gives you alternative dining choices when you travel


KitchHike_logo_betaSee the original story in Japanese.

Kitchhike is a website that lets you experience meals prepared by locals (usually) in their home while you travel abroad. In a way, it is a sort of AirBnB for home-cooked meals.

The service, which launches officially today, is a matching platform connects cooks and travelers in kitchens around the world. If you are interested in having local dishes when you travel, this site gives you a chance to dine on homemade dishes with local people instead of just visiting local restaurants. Currently it has 32 menus from six countries: Japan, Korea, mainland China, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

In online travel space, AirBnB focuses on finding accommodations, and Meetrip gives you a way to find a tour given by local people. Kitchhike’s proposed value is that it connects you with both local meals and local people, adding “delicious experiences” to your travel itinerary.

This startup was founded by two entrepreneurs: Masaya Yamamoto, who previously worked at one of Japanese ad giant Hakuhodo DY Media Partners; and Syoken Fujisaki, who worked at Japanese thinktank Nomura Research Institute.


Local people, local experiences

In their announcement, they elaborate on what makes the service unique:

Food culture is not really created intentionally, but rather it is an accumulation, [intertwined with the] history of neighborhoods. Every single household has different meals, and these are the places that give you a real local feeling. For visitors, a meal served by local people might be one of the most exciting parts of encountering a new culture.

In addition to the usual sightseeing destinations, we believe that a table filled with homemade meals by local people is also a destination most people have never experienced.

Homemade meals becomes profitable


Your homemade meals can take on a new value when you make them available to people outside your social circle. It’s not only globe trotters, but even your neighbors might be interested in experiencing your homemade meals.

For users who want to cook for someone (they are referred to as ‘cooks’ on the platform), you simply log on to the service and register what dishes you can prepare.

For users who want to eat dishes cooked by other users, you can choose a place (a cook’s residence) and contact them via the messaging feature. Subsequently they will schedule what time you can visit. To avoid any possible risk that might go along with meeting up with strangers, the service is linked up with Facebook for identification purposes.

The service is starting out in Asian regions, with some coverage in Europe and North America. But they are hoping for global expansion in the future.