Help us with our Ecohouse and gardening project in the beautiful Japanese countryside, Nagano, Japan

  • Japan
  • Favourited 461 times
  • Last activity: 4 Dec 2023



 Min stay requested: at least a week



  • Description


    SUMMER UPDATE! Thanks for everybody's interest. We have enough workawayers for the summer now.
    Hi. We are Chris (UK) and Naomi (Japan). After travelling around Europe in a campervan for 6 months and doing 2 workaways in Croatia and 1 in Bulgaria we have returned to Japan and bought a house in the countryside of Nagano Prefecture. We are in a small town called Minowa, about 1 hour from Matsumoto, in a valley between the middle and southern alps with beautiful views of the mountains. The surrounding countryside has lots of rice paddies and this is a great area to see the real countryside of Japan and still be relatively close to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.
    We have been doing lots of renovation and working hard in the garden to grow vegetables and fruit without the use of fertilizers or pesticides. We are open as a cafe and small guesthouse. We are trying to be as eco friendly as possible. We have also taken on a couple of new fields to grow more vegetables, one of which is very overgrown with bamboo and we are slowly clearing this to make it useable again. We also have a medium sized blueberry field with around 90 blueberry bushes. During the summer we will often be harvesting the blueberries early in the morning.
    There is always lots of work to be done both in the garden, the guesthouse and cafe space. We hope to see you soon.

    IMPORTANT. Please make sure you have the correct visa and insurance for volunteering in Japan.
    Also if our calendar is red to indicate no availability and you e mail us "just in case to see if we have availability" pleased don't be surprised if we do not reply.

  • Types of help and learning opportunities

    Types of help and learning opportunities

    Help with Eco Projects
    DIY and building projects
    Animal Care
    Creating/ Cooking family meals
    Help around the house
    General Maintenance
    Help with Computers/ Internet
  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Minowa town is a wonderful place to get a real taste of Japanese life in the countryside. There is a strong farming culture here growing rice, apples and other fruit and vegetables and staying here will give you a good opportunity to learn about Japanese country life.
    Naomi, has made a lot of friends in the local community and is involved in many social clubs such soba noodle making, kimono wearing and sewing.
    People wishing to learn,practice or study Japanese would also have lots of opportunities to use it although we tend to use English in the house.

  • Projects involving children

    Projects involving children

    This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.

  • Help


    Spring and Summer is on its way so there is lots to do in the garden at the moment. Gardening work mostly involves trying to remove bamboo in one of our fields. we will also be planting lots of vegetables by seed and ensuring they are watered and planted out when large enough. There is also never ending weeding and grass gutting to be done as summer gets underway. Our pets, 3 chickens, 2 cats and dog also need to be taken care of if that's something you feel happy doing We have a lot of firewood for our rocket stove that also always needs to be chopped, split and sorted.

    Our previous wonderful workawayers have done lots of general maintenance work, DIY projects such as laying 2 patios, building a pizza oven, and wood store. There are still a few more things to be done such as putting up siding on the outside walls of the house which involves the traditional technique of burning wooden planks and creating more seating areas. We would also like to build some raised beds and we hope to get more chickens soon so need to build an extra chicken coop.

    Most of the work is done inside the house now but there may be a little more DIY in the cafe space and other general maintenance around the place. That may include sanding, painting and staining wood. We would also like to clean and tidy our attic space a little more as it has a lot of junk in it.

    We really think there is something for everyone and while experience would be great any help with general housework, cooking and cleaning would be greatly appreciated as we never seem to find the time to do it. We also love to get ideas from people about our place and what we could do. We want to be able to find something you are happy doing to get the most from your time with us. If you are ever unsure about how or what needs to be done just ask.

  • Languages

    Languages spoken
    English: Fluent
    Japanese: Fluent

    This host offers a language exchange
    This host has indicated that they are interested in sharing their own language or learning a new language.
    You can contact them directly for more information.

  • Accommodation


    We have renovated an area in our attic with tatami mats and there is space for 2 futons. If we don't have guests you could also sleep in one of our guest rooms.
    All other facilities will be shared with us, any guests we have, our 2 cats and Rocky the dog so we hope you like cats and dogs. We have a newly renovated bathroom with bath and shower.
    We do eat meat, but are willing to prepare vegetarian dishes as well with our vegetables from the garden(generally not so much in the winter) and eggs from our chickens if they are laying.
    If you drink alcohol that's fine but we won't provide it so please buy your own when we visit the local supermarket. We provide most other food. On your days off you are welcome to have breakfast with us when we get up but please sort yourself out for lunch and dinner. Again, you can get some food when we visit the supermarket or you can borrow our e bikes if you want to stay around Minowa and go to a cafe near here.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    We are looking for workawayers who are happy and confident enough to be left at the house alone at times or able to be pro active when it comes to situations around the house or in the garden. We would expect around 5 hours a day work 5 days a week but there may be less than this on some days and more on others if we have friends or visitors coming or we have a big project to do. This can be discussed as necessary.
    We both now work in our cafe and guesthouse full time but we are often busy around the local area and at weekends. There is a small local bus that goes quite near to our house and around town. There is a train station on the Iida line and that goes to nearby Okaya which then connects to Tokyo or Matsumoto and Nagano in the other direction. Services are not very regular but we can take you to the station no problem.
    On days off the neighboring Kiso valley has some interesting historical towns and Matsumoto with its castle is about an hour away. Komagane is also about 45 minutes away with a rope way up Koma ga take mountain. The mountains give good opportunities for outdoor activities and there a few hotsprings as well. In the winter there are many small ski resorts nearby that are suitable for beginners
    Well done and thanks for reading all of our profile. To let us know you have read everything please put the password Minowa in your e mail subject when you get in contact.

  • 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

  • Space for parking camper vans

    Space for parking camper vans

    This host can provide space for campervans.

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?


  • ...

    Hours expected

    Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week

Host ref number: 492626728996

Feedback (19)



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