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Wwoofing in Japan

Cultural Immersion Through Volunteer Vacations

Japanese farm field
Japanese farm field with stream in background.

Nearly all travelers to Japan return with photos of its beautiful temples. Very few can say they actually worked in one for a time. A volunteering vacation through WWOOF Japan offers one a wealth of opportunities to see a side of the country unavailable to visitors. WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. WWOOF members, known informally as WWOOFers, are provided with free room and board in exchange for approximately six hours of work a day at their host establishment. Host listings are updated monthly and can be downloaded by members from the WWOOF Japan website. You may also request a paper copy of the handbook.

WWOOF Japan decided to broaden its offerings beyond farms to include hosts that offer another kind of “organic” experience, which means you can enjoy an incredibly varied stint of WWOOFing even in a short amount of time. Hosts include farms, pensions, environmental education and sustainable living centers, and even a temple. With new listings added every month, the opportunities are endless.

The Japanese tend to be private people by nature. Extending yourself to your hosts by showing an interest in their language and culture will go a long way toward making them feel comfortable around you and, in turn, you them.

As a WWOOFer you become much more than simply a tourist. You are adopted, however temporarily, into a community and more often than not a family.

At the very heart of WWOOFing is this notion of mutual exchange. It’s about learning organic vegetable gardening and Japanese drinking games. However, it is equally about learning what it is you have to contribute to your host and to the world. There can be nothing of greater value to take away with you from a travel experience. Except maybe a robotic dog.

You can become a member of WWOOF Japan by completing the online application form on its website. A year-long membership with WWOOF Japan costs 4,000 yen (about $40) and includes the handbook of WWOOF host listings in more than 20 countries.

Japan WWOOF participants with Ducks
Volunteers move aigamo ducks, which are used in organic rice cultivation, between two paddies.

For More Info

WWOOF Japan, Honcho 2-jo, 3-chome 6-7, Higashi-ku, Sapporo, 065-0042, Japan; fax. 011-81-11-780-4908. WWOOF Japan can also be contacted using a form on its website at: www.wwoofjapan.com.

 
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