Three months, and more, of each year (it varies) I live in a small Okinawan fishing and farming village and I help out in the home of my long time friend Sayori.
Sayori has an interest in foreigners, especially From Italy. She has visited Italy twice and studied Italian for three years in college so she can speak some Italian. Unless I am in residence, we cannot schedule males traveling without female family members or anyone who does not speak Japanese. I do not know when I will be back, so I'm not scheduling single males or non Japanese speakers at this time, sorry.
When I am in residence, we can host any one over the age of 20. When I am not in residence our options are limited by the rural Okinawan village culture which would be shocked for Sayori to host a male in her home. Sayori's complete lack of English language skill, along with the long hours Sayori works means no one is available to shop and cook regularly for workaway guests, and no one is there to translate or give much in the way of guiding and teaching. Even so, we have not listed our host profile as closed, because the right person, or people, could be very helpful to us and we would provide you with some limited cultural exchange, chances to learn and welcome you into her home and life. That person would need Japanese language skill, and perhaps a travel companion as our listing can be isolating for just one person. However, a Japanese speaking woman wanting autonomy and quiet and minimal contact could come alone and very much enjoy themselves.
We need help with the gardening and the house cleaning and general maintenance and home repair as well as cooking and Italian language lessons. We can offer a married couple, a small family, or two female travelers the downstairs Nihon ma, which has tatmi floors and Shoji screens and a private entrance off the formal gardens. When I am in residence, we can take trips around the island snorkeling, hiking, biking, shopping, paragliding, surfing, kayaking, eating etc. I hope you are interested! I love company.
A note about Rural Okinawan Culture: This community is not a modern urban Japanese community. When I am in residence I must change my behavior and my clothing in order to be accepted and not cause trouble for my hostess. While the independent western woman I am rolls my eyes at such things as never exposing my shoulder skin and always covering my crotch such that the outline never shows (as would happen if I were to tuck my shirt into my pants), I adopt an attitude of learning from the culture I am visiting rather than insisting on my right to dress and act in total freedom. If you were to stay with us, there will be an on going conversation about how your actions and dress are perceived by your hostess and her community. In addition, people under the age of 20 are still considered minors in Japan. They are not allowed to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, drive cars, vote or make life decisions such as engagement for marriage until you are 20. Thus, workaway guests who are younger than 20 cannot be hosted. If you have read this far, please put the word "Savannah" in your email to me so that I know you have taken the time to read this profile?
Having said all of that, Okinawa is really interesting and may very well steal your heart. It is one of the few places in the world where women run the religion as documented in Susan Sered's book "Women of the Sacred Groves: Divine Priestesses of Okinawa" and Nanjo city, where our home is located, is home to Okinawa's most sacred places. If you have an interest in a society that is fundamentally different than your own, our village is one place where you can observe that difference. It may open your mind. Plus, Okinawa is drop dead gorgeous and the people have the cultural goal of treating you like family right as soon as you meet. "ichariba-chode" means "Once we have met, we are like brothers and sisters".
Cooking / shopping
Help in the house
Help with Computers / internet
Can you do some small maintenance in the home, or can help build a cover for our patio? Could you sew some curtains or other household items? There is always house cleaning and gardening to do. There is a formal Japanese garden and an organic kitchen garden to maintain. Gardening must be done in the mornings and evenings during the summer months due to the strong sun, but that leaves your days free for travel, water sports, shopping etc.
English and Japanese
We house our guests in the Nihon ma, the traditional formal rooms of our home. These rooms are downstairs and have their own entrance onto the formal gardens. The floors are Tatami and the beds are placed on the floor, and folded up during the day. The downstairs is airconditioned and there is a launrdy, shower, and deep bath room. The house is on a two lane highway and from inside the house you can hear traffic when ever the windows are open to catch Okinawa's ocean breezes. Sayori prefers to provide breakfast and to include you in any meals she is consuming, but not to stock the kitchen with fresh foods for your lunch and dinner if she is not going to be home. This is a financial reality for her at this time. I have stockd coffee and tea and rice and beans and pasta and canned goods for you, and sometimes Sayori will come home with vegetables from her friends gardens, but fresh foods, for the most part, would be your responsibility unless you are sharing the meal with Sayori, who frankly, is not often home. There are grocery stores and cafes and Kombini's near by and a bicycle for you to explore the area with.
When I am in residence, you can speak in English or Japanese in our home, but when only Sayori san is home, she speaks only Japanese and some basic Italian. If you stay when I am in the US, I am available by internet, and we will introduce you to the English speaking locals in hopes that one will adopt you (they usually do, and we have fun figuring out who would be your best friend). Sayori speaks some Italian and would welcome the chance to practice with you. There are two bicycles available for you, if you will be responsible for their maintenance, and safety (you MUST lock them etc).
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
We are happy to teach you about Okinawan history, geography, culture, arts, food, social structures, politics. We hope to learn from you too about your country, your customs, your travel, and your special talents and skills. Sayori would be happy to include you in her rounds as a teacher and leader in the community, once she's had a chance to get to know you, and feels comfortable about bringing along a relative stranger to the old folks homes, the community centers, the garden parties and the like that she is a member of.
up to five hours a day, but flexible. We can work out a schedule that meets both our needs.
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