There's an old line that goes "What's the difference between an American and yogurt?.......The yogurt has culture." Which is to say I am American and as I'm in my 50's, I do tell old jokes.
My wife Hiroko is slightly younger than me, but sh'es Japanese, so I have to admit she has more culture behind her. Her mother, Suzue, is pushing 90 and lovely, but having more difficulty remembering, etc.
I am active in sports (badminton, road biking, ice hockey) and in the community--ran a small farmer's market for the neighbors to provide a safe place to get together, made and donated a bench in a common space in town and working to get a dog run going on this side of town. In addition, I've been working on a beautification project on my land, including landscaping and painting of concrete walls for a taste of color.
Hiroko teaches Japanese for universities in Sapporo (online at the moment) and gets quite a lot of exercise walking/running with our papillon, Jimbei. Her mother generally goes to day service 4 days a week and has a sense of humor even as she becomes less active (lots of napping during the day). In short, a good chance to learn Japanese in a normal context, with help from someone who's a pro!
Hiroko really likes cultural exchange and languages and we've both lived abroad--me, UK, Israel, Germany, Denmark, Hungary and she's lived in the US, Hungary and the UK.
DIY and building projects
Help with Eco Projects
Help around the house
Help with Computers/ Internet
This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.
As my wife and MIL are both Japanese, obviously there is the opportunity to see a Japanese dynamic inside here. And because of the nature of the property, there will be a chance to interact with people in the neighborhood.
For the musically inclined, we happen to have a number of drums, Buddhist singing bowls, a shamisen, didgeridoos, etc., although no talent in using them!
In terms of the project:
Thanks to workawayers, we completed the 1st stage of our project, renovating the main house and getting moved in. I would like to thank everyone for their efforts and have posted photos of the different projects people worked on, mainly the mum's room, the entryway and the deck, so you can see the finished job. We're so pleased with the process and the result!
We have been in Otaru now for about 1 year and completed most of the renovations on the main house. However, we are still working toward sustainable agriculture on the fields and landscaping of the ground in general. I also would like to get roofs up for farm machinery and materials, and for a greenhouse. If that's not enough to do, we've also just taken over an older house and are starting renovations of it, primarily inside.
1. Our new property has a fair amount of land with it, but it has been idling for quite awhile. As I want to develop the property with several small houses, I want to beautify the area so it will be attractive. I don't like using pesticides and chemical fertilizers, so this first year will involve the lasagna method--if you're interested in organic farming, nice!
By contrast, the current house has a nice garden that I want to tidy up a bit for the landlord before we move, as they are a bit older. Also, I work small field, so wish to transplant some perennials, such as artichoke, rhubarb, strawberries and flowers.
2. The former owner of the new property left behind a lot of things, many of which have enough value to put them online to sell. I could use some help with that.
4. Much of the work for a bath house is done, but need to confirm the condition of the pump and auxiliary equipment. If everything is fine, then move ahead with finishing it up. If not, finish the room and set up temporary water and heating.
I think that's about it...lots to do! So, help!
I have lived in Japan and been coming and going for some 25 years or so, and can discuss some aspects of the culture with not too high a degree of idiocy. I'm not very good at categorical statements, though... As I speak Japanese well enough (I'm a translator), I am comfortable visiting places like Japanese-style pubs where everything is in Japanese--that may or not be of interest as you may feel left out if you don't speak any Japanese...or it could be a great opportunity if you do.
This host offers a language exchange
This host has indicated that they are interested in sharing their own language or learning a new language.
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Rooms will be available in the house we are renovating, with either a bed or a Japanese futon. Due to corona-virus, GP may eat with work-awayers as Hiroko's mother would be particularly susceptible if she got it. Breakfast tends to be Western-style, with bread, eggs, salad, etc., while dinner is usually Japanese-style, so miso-soup, fish, rice and side dishes.
Otaru offers plenty to do for sight-seeing and there are plenty of sources of information online about it. The same is true of Sapporo, which is close by. For those who prefer the outdoors, there is plenty of opportunity in the mountains or the ocean.
As we've been in the area for several years, we can give some good recommendations of things to do. In terms of transport, I have several bikes and both locations are well-served by bus and then train/subway. You may also have access to our vehicles, depending on the situation.
Hokkaido is well-known for quality food and Otaru in particular for fish, so you can expect to eat some good sushi/sashimi. The property in Otaru is close to the ocean and a hiking trail up to a bluff overlooking it. As the port for this part of Hokkaido, Otaru has a relatively long history and is very popular for the architecture and small shops and walking street. Our property is right next to the largest private botanical garden in Japan.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
We have a dedicated shared workspace that people can use, including office equipment. Wifi available.
Plenty of parking.
Open to well-behaved critters.
More than two
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week
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