Home stays have worked out great so far. I've yet to stay with someone that I've disagreed with or not gotten along with. But it might not be for everyone, I just have a very large capacity for different personalities.
And there's not "easy" way to get a working holiday visa, there's "the" way to do it, which is to tick every box required to get one. In that way it's really easy, just read up on the requirements on your local Japanese embassy website, fill out the correct forms, bring proper documentation, and go apply for it.
Also, I'm gonna go out and get drunk in Osaka now. If any lurkers here are in Osaka right now, come meet me at Murphy's in an hour or so.