Get creative in an ancient castle town in the stunning Japanese Alps, Hida, Gifu, Japan

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  • Last activity: 12 Jun 2024



 Min stay requested: at least a week



  • Description


    We are an Australian family of 4 who have just moved to beautiful Hida Furukawa to set up an artist-run project space in an old machiya.

    We are renovating the house and setting up an artist program. Adrian is a carpenter/builder and I'm an artist, sculpture teacher and urban strategist.

    Our daughter is a high-school student studying German & Japanese, our son is 14, learning karate and wants to learn violin

    Note: most of our reviews are from when we ran an artist studio in Melbourne about 5 years ago

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Charity Work
    Art Projects
    Language practice
    Help with Eco Projects
    DIY and building projects
    Creating/ Cooking family meals
    Help around the house
    General Maintenance
  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    English language
    Renovation of akiya and machiya houses
    Art curation
    International aid programs
    Skiing, hiking, hot springs

  • Help


    We need the following skills. If you speak Japanese or have a local license please put this in the subject of your message.

    1. Fluent in Japanese (with B1 English or higher)

    Nice-to-have skills:
    3. Insights into the Japanese art world
    4. Helping with homework (14 years old)
    5. Language exchange support for Deutsche Sprache
    6. Japanese driver's license

    We would particularly like to host families with teens or independent young adults (18-21) and can provide a safe and supportive space.

    We will offer experiences and learning opportunities in the following:
    - Establishing an artist-run space
    - Building design
    - Renovating akiyas/ carpentry etc
    - Advocacy project to help teens facing forced marriage and FGM

    For volunteers who don't speak fluent Japanese, we may have spots available, but we will allocate a position to Japanese-speaking volunteer first.

  • Languages

    Languages spoken
    English: Fluent
    German: Intermediate
    Japanese: Beginner

    This host offers a language exchange
    Our daughter speaks German to an intermediate level (A2-B1) and the family is intensively learning Japanese. We would love to practice! We have lived in Thailand and Japan, so even though English is our first language we try to speak good "international" English, by avoiding confusing words

  • Accommodation


    Our house is a machiya build in the 1960s in the centre of Hida Furukawa township.

    Hida Furukawa is an old castle town near the bigger and much better known town of Takayama, both towns are known as Little Kyoto in the Mountains .

    Our place is a couple of minutes walk from the the famous White Walled Storehouse street aka Shirakabe Dozogai that runs alongside the Seto stream where you can feed the huge golden koi fish

    The old shop front, which used to be a hairdressing salon is now a working/studio space for our family, there is another shed out the back - and the rest is residential.

    We have 3 bicycles to share, and no car at the moment.

    The house is comfortable but in the process of being renovated, so you will need to be ok with some level of chaos depending on works that might be underway at the time.

    Send me an email in advance and I can let you know what is going on with the renovation before you arrive.

    Sleeping areas:

    The house has 6 bedrooms, with 3 bedrooms available to guests. The main guest area is 2 connected traditional Japanese tatami rooms

    The rooms are separated by opaque screens rather than walls, as is typical in a Japanese house.

    Generally you'll have a room to yourself, but depending on how many guests we have and their preference these may be shared. The exact combination and level of privacy will be discussed and confirmed before each guests's arrival. We seek to provide as much comfort, privacy and predictability as possible in a family home setting.

    The rooms have futon beds, warm bedding etc


    Breakfast: we provide a range of groceries items for breakfast such as yogurt, cereal, porridge, toast, coffee and fruit and everyone makes their own breakfast

    Lunch: We share a meal and sit down to eat lunch together, usually we take turns cooking for the household (we provide the groceries)

    Dinner: Same as lunch

    Snacks: We provide basic snacks such as fruit, 2 minute noodles, toast etc

    Cravings and special diets: Volunteers are most welcome to prepare their own meals and snacks with the groceries provided. They are also welcome to eat separately or take a packed lunch as suits their own schedule. However, if the family grocery provision doesn't suit them, guests may need to buy specific snacks or ingredients themselves from their own money

    Note, we do regularly prepare gluten, meat, pork, shellfish and dairy in our kitchen. But we are considerate, and willing to make accomodations where possible, and of course we do not expect guests to handle foods that aren't part of their own diet.

    We know what a hassle it can be to travel on a restricted diet and have a lot of sympathy, so if you have a difficult diet e.g no gluten anywhere in the house at all, please do feel free to talk to us and we will try to work something out

    We have currently health conditions in the family that make us vulnerable to viruses and bacteria. We welcome people with up-to-date vaccinations including COVID vaccinations and flu shots. Please choose another host if you choose to remain unvaccinated. If you find yourself unwell, please contact us to reschedule before you arrive, and please have a contingency plan for alternative accomodation to use if you get sick while staying with us.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    Hida Furukawa is in the middle of one of the most beautiful areas of Japan surrounded by mountains and crystal clear rivers. It's 25 minutes to the bigger and more touristy castle town of Takayama and close enough for overnight trips to Kanazawa, Kyoto, Osaka and for weekends in Tokyo. Ski fields, wild onsens and rotenburo and stunning hiking trails are within cycling distance.

    Public transport is excellent with buses and JR trains. Our place is a short walk to Hida Furakawa station and the cafes, bars, izekayas and shops in town.

    Hida is famous for carpentry and crafts and for the abundant nature and snow.

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

    • Can host families

  • Can host digital nomads

    Can host digital nomads

    We are very flexible about the timing and amount of Workaway work that people do and are very happy to host students, artists or digital nomads If you don't have much time we can sometimes work out an accomodation only arrangement We have fast wifi and have turned the old shopfront into a shared work/ studio space, we also have a shed suitable for work-working or messy art projects too

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    We have an off-street parking space but it is sometimes occupied, its possible to park nearby though and we know a bunch of good spots nearby

  • Can possibly accept pets

    Can possibly accept pets

    Potentially. It depends on the pet

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    Maximum 5 hours a day, 5 days a week

Host ref number: 247898955981

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