Experience Japan

Vol. 2 - Farmstay

experience1_1.jpgName: Raymond Angod
Area of Residence: Nagano prefecture, Japan
Useful Links:
a WWOOF farmstay for Japanese farmstays
for other world-wide farmstays

My trip to Japan was very enjoyable.  Staying in a large city could have been more entertaining, but I think I got more out of this trip by being in the countryside.  Being in that kind of environment left a positive impression on me.  It was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget.  I made some very good friends there with whom I will remain in touch.  I recommend this trip for anyone looking for a peaceful time, and can handle the work involved in maintaining a house and farm.

experience1_2.jpgMy role there was to help with the farming, maintain the house, care for the children, gather firewood, and other miscellaneous tasks that varied from day to day. The house was very old, about 100 years, and very traditional in style.  There were tatami mats, rice-paper doors, stoves and a bath that were heated by fire, and other antiquities.

It was atop a mountain, about one kilometer up, and surrounded by dense forest with stunning wildlife.  A river ran through the backyard, which we would often swim in during hot days. 

experience1_3.jpgThe house was quite big, and we often had 12-15 volunteers staying.  At any given time, about half were Japanese and half were foreigners. I was able to meet people from Denmark, Australia, Italy, Israel, and various other places around the world. It was a very unique mix of people, and we all got along really well. Most people were very friendly, and embraced the chance to speak with a foreigner, which is rare in such a rural area.

experience1_4.jpgDays started early, about 6am. We did some morning chores and cooked breakfast.  After washing the dishes, we would get to work.  After lunch we would rest for a little while, then do some more work.  Dinner was served by about 7pm.  After that, it was free time.  But being in an isolated community of 200 people (most of them over 60 years old), there was no where to go. So we would usually just sit around and chat, teach each other Japanese/English, play cards, or other non-stressful activities.  Most of us went to bed by 9 or 10.

experience1_7.jpgBut my stay in Japan wasn't all work.  I would often explore neighboring towns via bicycle. I also went to a few festivals, which were a lot of fun. The live entertainment was wonderful, and the costumes were beautiful.  At the end of my trip, I went with some friends to Sadogashima, an island north of mainland Japan. We went for the Peace Celebration, which is a music festival that lasts three straight days. The main attraction was the Kodo Drummers, said to be the best taiko band in the world. Also, I got to meet several Japanese hippies, who were very interesting, and very kind.

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