Are you someone who prefers being right smack in the middle of nature and not afraid to get down and dirty? Experience Japan away from Tokyo and try WWOOFing.
WWOOFing in Japan
WWOOF Japan stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms in Japan. This gives travelers the opportunity to bask in nature, away from hotels, busy streets, and the usual tourist spots of the country. What’s more, this option is one of the cheapest ways to stay in Japan – in fact, you only need to work about six hours a day on a farm in exchange for meals and accommodation.
Having just visited the beach for the summer vacation, my family realized how refreshing being away from the city truly was. We were only a kilometer away from the beach, and we had already missed it. During our stay there, we explored the area, saw flourishing farmlands, indulged in the freshest ingredients, and observed happy residents. Life was really simple yet fulfilling.
That’s what WWOOFing is all about. You step away from the daily grind and create meaningful experiences with people and Japanese culture. You learn how to think organically and, of course, enjoy the fruits of your labor with the freshest ingredients.
What is WWOOFing?
There is a WWOOFing community in Japan where hosts and potential travelers connect to begin their unforgettable experiences. There are hosts needing assistance with their organic farms, restaurants, farm inns, pottery shops, and other activities like restoring traditional properties, raising animals, brewing delicacies, fishing, beekeeping, and so much more.
Travelers, called WWOOFers, can spend a part of their holiday helping and learning from the experts in exchange for meals, a place to sleep, and social engagement. Take note that WWOOFers are not workers and don’t need the respective visa or legal papers to engage in the tasks. The hosts open their homes to the WWOOFers and welcome them as guests.
WWOOFers are treated like family and share the homes of the hosts. As a WWOOFer, you have access to delicious local cuisine, often in farm-to-table style. Imagine harvesting radish in the morning and enjoying the most satisfying meal with the produce you just picked that morning. If you’re a foodie who loves trying new recipes, WWOOFing is an excellent option to check out.
How to become a WWOOFer
To become a WWOOFer, one must be 16 years old or older. There’s no maximum age limit to try this unforgettable experience. Children 15 years and under can also become a WWOOFer as long as they’re accompanied by an adult who is a WWOOF member. To date, around half of the WWOOFing community are those in their 20s and 30s.
When it comes to language, WWOOFers don’t need to master Japanese because most of the hosts can communicate in English. Some even understand German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and other languages. Understandably, these hosts are well-acquainted with dealing with foreigners, given their history in welcoming travelers.
How long can I WWOOF?
There is no limit to how long you can WWOOF in Japan, as long as you don’t risk overstaying in the country. The general duration offered by hosts is one week to a few weeks. What many WWOOFers do is they jump hosts and proceed to another family after their first host. This way, travelers can fully explore multiple destinations in the country. There is no limit to how many hosts you book during your stay.
Other costs to WWOOFing
As mentioned earlier, your meals and accommodations, which are the biggest part of any travel budget, are covered under WWOOFing. The only other things you will need to pay for are toiletries, personal necessities, and transportation costs, although many hosts even offer to pick up WWOOFers from nearby public transport stations. What you eat or spend during days off is also not covered under the program.
Added perks to WWOOFing
On top of free meals and accommodations and having access to beautiful spots in Japan away from tourist routes, WWOOFing allows travelers to learn Japanese. In fact, hosts are very eager to teach their guests the local language.
If you have a green thumb, learning the secret techniques of farmers is a priceless skill to acquire. The same goes for any craft you’re interested in, such as potter making, brewing tea, and more.
Since the program is all about organic living, you can also learn from the hosts about their sustainable lifestyles, such as composting and using alternatives to fossil fuels and synthetic detergents.
Ready to start WWOOFing? Check out the official website where you can get connected with available hosts. The initial WWOOFer membership fee is ¥5,500, which becomes ¥2,900 for the second year, ¥1,900, and ¥1,500 for the consecutive years.
You need to fill up a registration form, pay the membership fee, complete your profile, and you’re good to go! More details can be found here.
WWOOFing is all about discovery and experience. You get to discover your surroundings and yourself, creating life-changing experiences for many.