AirKitchen is a Tokyo-based startup working to make Japan more vegan-friendly to travelers. Similar to Airbnb but for cooking classes, the online kitchen sharing platform connects foreigners interested in an intimate cultural and culinary experience to local Japanese hosts who want to share their home cooking skills.
With the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics promising an increase of foreign visitors to Japan, airKitchen hopes to help make travelers’ culinary and cultural experience of Japan more enjoyable and memorable. However, Japan is not the most vegan-friendly country; animal products are used widely, but often discreetly, in contemporary Japanese cuisine.
New platform airKitchen believes no one should have to miss out on Japan’s famous food culture, and they offer a wide range of cooking classes for vegans in Japan’s major cities. There are vegan cooking classes for traditional Japanese dishes like sushi, ramen, tempura, and more. Shojin ryori cooking classes are also popular among vegan travelers, as shojin ryori is traditional Japanese temple food that is usually vegan.
How airKitchen Works
On the airKitchen website, users find a cooking class they’re interested in and send a booking request to the host. Once accepted, guests visit their local host’s home on the reserved date. In English, the guests learn how to cook the host’s specialty before enjoying the meal together. A closer look at what a vegan airKitchen experience looks like is available on the company’s blog.
Mei Brunson, part of the airKitchen team, writes: “As a vegan living in Tokyo, I know from firsthand experience the challenges of being vegan in Japan. It can be tough and socially alienating finding vegan dining options here, which is why I’m excited to be growing and spreading the word about airKitchen’s vegan cooking experiences. Being passionate about veganism, cooking, and cultural exchange, I believe that airKitchen’s services benefit both the foreign guests and Japanese hosts sharing the experience.”