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 opening as a cafe and small guesthouse. We are trying to be as eco friendly as possible. Recently we have started a new project with a nashi( Japanese Pear) orchard and we are learning how to prune, pollinate and produce our own fruits.
There is always lots of work to be done both in the garden and orchard, 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.
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help with Eco Projects
Help around the house
Help with Computers/ Internet
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.
Spring is passing quickly and Summer is on its way way so there is there is lots to do in the garden and nashi orchard. Gardening such as weeding, planting and grasscutting is never ending. The orchard needs work on flowers, putting fruit in bags and general grass clearing and tidying. 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 fire pit at some time in the future.
Most of the work is done inside the house now but there may be a little more DIY in the cafe space. 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.
There really 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 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.
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 and our 2 cats so we hope you like cats. 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 5 chickens.
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.
Naomi is now at home full time but often quite busy. I work 2 days a week at the moment so 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 come to situations around the house or are 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 it is harvest or pruning time in the orchard. This can be discussed as necessary.
I usually work on Wednesdays and Thursday's. Naomi works from home for our cafe and guesthouse 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 ski resorts nearby.
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.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week
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