In April 2015 I traveled to Japan for three
months. I wanted to see rural Japan so I signed up for Wwoof Japan. My first
Wwoofing was in Gifu prefecture and I stayed there for ten days.
My second Wwoofing Japan was with Kentaro
Sato in the Tohoku area of the Niigato Prefecture. Online the Sato farm was described
as a rice farm, Nature guide, school, mini hotel, farm restaurant, café and
gallery. That is in fact exactly what it is. It is located in a tiny village in
an area with breath taking mountains reflected off the Agano river, which is
ever present no matter where you are. Photographs do not do this area justice.
It really is beyond description.
The night I arrived it was late and I was certain I had gotten off at the wrong station. The area was dark and every business was closed. I noticed a woman closing her shop and I was able to get her attention, within minutes she was able to locate Kentaro Sato for me. He took me to his home where I met his wife Makiko. She had prepared a lovely meal and in spite of our language problems we managed to communicate quite well (Kentaro does very well with English). After dinner Makiko drove me to a mountain bath that had been prepared for us. I can only describe it as our own private onsen, and it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable parts of my stay. After the bath I slept in a traditional Tatami room on a futon surro
unded by down and a buckwheat pillow. My room was located in Kentaros art
gallery just a few houses from the Sato home. That type of privacy is rare
in the Wwoofing program. I loved the little village and the Satos were
wonderful to me.
I arrived at the Sato farm during Golden
week, a popular vacation time for Japanese families. During this time approximately
twelve friends came to stay and help on the farm. During the day Makiko and
several others would stay at the cafe and prepare wonderful meals while
everyone else went out and together took care of whatever needed to be done.
The work was not hard for my part, mostly farm type maintenance. I really
enjoyed it. I was treated so nicely by everyone, never left out or made to feel
I didn’t belong. Even though Kentaro was the only other person who spoke English
I was able to laugh and enjoy the warmth and kindness put forward by everyone.
It was an honor to be surrounded by such joyous people in this country so far
away from my home.