We are halfway through 6 weeks in Japan! Two of our weeks was spent volunteering in Japan with a small family of three in Kashiwabara, a town kind of close to Kyoto. We found this opportunity via Helpx, a site that pairs volunteer workers with people who need help. It’s like Wwoofing, but not only on farms… you could volunteer abroad and in exchange receive free room and board as well as other perks like using their bikes and cultural exchange. It is what you make of it!
Our host family were Hideo, Yu and their wee one Tsumugi. The Watanabes live in a traditional Japanese house that Hideo grew up in and returned to with Yu after 10 years living in Tokyo. The front part of the house was a storefront selling traditional sliding Japanese doors, as his father was a carpenter. Today, Yu opens an organic and fair trade shop on the weekends in that space. Conveniently enough, they can also squeeze their little electric car in to the front of the house for when it needs to be charged.
We would get up in the morning, make breakfast, play some games with Tsumugi and around 9 or so, we’d all pack into the car with the tools with our work gloves and rubber boots and head out to the rice paddies. They have 4 paddies, which would yield approximately 1 ton of rice, and feed them for at least one year. Their lifestyle is intentionally traditional: they choose to farm without machinery, and at home, they also tend to do things manually. No fridge?! …Hard to wrap my head around at first!
|Rice plants, as well as the cropped off/dried out plants from last year. They will stay there and decompose.
Working in a Rice Paddy
|Lessons in fermenting rice for doburoku
|Brad getting a good look at the leapfrogs enjoying the sunset on Lake Biwa.