Friday, February 19, 2010


In early May, Japan has this big long holiday (ok, 5 day weekend) known as Golden Week where most people can take time off to travel. The parade my organization participates in, and for which I am currently planning the international troupe, is smack in the middle of that long holiday. Sucks. So I can't make plans to travel with anyone because they will no doubt be leaving the Friday before or so, and the parade is on Monday.

However, I am anticipating accumulating a fair amount of overtime hours by that time, and I still have more than half of my vacation days left. In any case, I plan on taking a trip once the parade is over. It will have to be by myself, but that's no big deal and in fact, I'm looking forward to it.

Since I'm going to be here at least two years, I told myself that the first year would be the one to explore as much of Japan as possible, and in year #2 I would venture to other parts of Asia. Having grown up in the 'burbs and gone to college in the big city, I want to get away for a little bit and experience rural Japan. Most people probably think of Tokyo and Kyoto when they conjure up images of Japan, but apart from urban spaces here and there, Japan is REALLY RURAL. And it's beautiful! When I was studying abroad, we did a weekend homestay in the mountains of Okayama, and I just loved my host family's huge house nestled in the side of a hill, their grape arbour, and the tiny Shinto shrine in the nearby clearing of trees. I am grateful to be living and working in the city now (sorry, Marisa!), but I want to get out and experience a little bit more of the Japan that feeds this country and allows it to have some of the freshest, most delicious produce I've ever tasted. So I am planning on joining WWOOF (, going to a prefecture I've yet to venture to, and working on a farm for at least a week.

I'm getting super excited just thinking about it! People come from all over the world to participate in WWOOF, and I've read about a lot of wonderful experiences. It's not expensive at all, since all I would have to do is get myself to wherever I will be working and there receive free room and board for 6-7 hours of labor a day. I really want to work on a rice or vegetable farm, so I am considering going to Nagano Prefecture (lots of rice farms), but there are at least 15 other prefectures I'm interested in. I also think it will be a particularly rewarding experience since I speak some Japanese, and will probably be speaking nothing BUT Japanese for that whole week.

Another exciting thing I found is a farm in Saitama Prefecture that is just a few train stops away from where my first Japanese tutor's parents live. I stayed with them the very first time I visited Japan (eight years ago, holy cow), and although we haven't been in touch, it would be pretty amazing to see them and actually be able to speak with them in their native language after all this time. I can still remember what their house looks like, the shiitake mushroom log in their carport, the river and mountains nearby. So I am tempted to request to go to this farm and visit them along the way, even though I've already been to Saitama.

It's too early to do too much planning, since there is still sooooo much to be done for the parade, but I'm really looking forward to this!


risris said...


it's actually funny that one of my japanese classmates mentioned wanting to do this...and now you're thinking of farming??

at least you'll have a once in a lifetime experience.

i've been watching ushi ni negai o. have you seen it?

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