Japan – English Exchange

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Join an English exchange program in Japan! Volunteer in a traditional village to improve English skills through conversation and gain valuable cultural experience.

Program Highlights

  • Experience authentic Japanese culture by assisting in a small, hillside village
  • Help local community members improve their conversational English language skills
  • Enjoy weekly cultural activities such as sushi making, trekking, origami, visits to natural hot springs and more
  • Enhance your experience with a travel add-on (see “Travel Highlights” below)

 

Your Schedule at a Glance: (Minimum one-week commitment):

Day 1, Sunday: Arrive at Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND) or Narita International Airport (NRT). You will take a bus to the Shinjuku Bus Terminal (12-30 USD) where you will be picked up and taken to your accommodations just outside of Otaki Village.

Day 2, Monday: Volunteers will join a tour of the local area and participate in culture and Japanese language lessons on this day.

Day 3-6, Tuesday-Friday: Volunteers will provide English conversation practice at local community centers and may have the option to do a language exchange at a local kindergarten as well. Volunteers should expect to work 1-4 hours per day.​ Throughout the week, volunteers will join cultural activities (included) such as visits to natural springs, learning to make origami, joining a matcha tea ceremony, learning to make sushi, trekking and more!

Day 7, Saturday: Departure day for volunteers staying only one week. Free day for volunteers extending.

Remaining Weeks: Remaining weeks will follow the pattern of volunteering Monday-Friday and free weekends to explore.

 

Location icon Location of the Project: Otaki Village, Nagano, Japan

Project length Project length: Min 1 week – Max 12 weeks

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND) or Narita International Airport (NRT)

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work: Teaching

Age Age: Min age of 18. Age exceptions: Participants aged 16 and 17 may apply with parental consent

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: Up to 20 international volunteers

 

What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: Shared rooms in a homestay or dorm-style accommodation

Food Food: Three meals per weekday are provided, two meals on weekends are provided

Orientation Orientation: Volunteers will join a tour of the local area and participate in culture and Japanese language lessons on their first Monday.

Support Support: Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.

 

What’s not Included

Flights, visas (if required), travel health insurance, bus from airport to Shinjuku (12-30 USD), lunches on weekends, return airport transfer (approx. $60 USD), personal expenses.

Japan offers an amazing mix of traditionalism and modernism. From traditional villagers who sleep on tatami mats to the modern city-dwellers of Tokyo, Japan is rich with culture. This program takes place in the traditional village of Otaki, in the mountainous Nagano Prefecture in central Japan. This region is where the 1998 Winter Olympics were held, and is home to many ski resorts, hot springs, parks and beautiful mountain landscapes.

 

The Otaki village is eager attract more tourists, but many members of the local community lack confidence in their English skills. Volunteers on this program will help improve the community members’ conversational English skills, which will in turn improve the village’s ability to reach out to more tourists. Volunteers should expect to work 1-4 hours per day.

Some of your tasks may include:

  • Holding informal conversations with members in a local community center
  • Assisting with English lessons at a local kindergarten
  • Partaking in various, group cultural activities

Internet icon Internet: WiFi is available in public areas.

Laundry icon Laundry: Volunteers should be prepared to wash their clothes by hand.

Accommodations icon Accommodations: Volunteers will stay in shared, single-gender rooms with up to seven other volunteers either in a local homestay or a dorm-style accommodation, depending on availability. There is the possibility for tent accommodations during warmer months. Bathrooms are shared, and beds are Japanese-style (tatami mats on the floor). There are hot showers and Western-style toilets. There is no air conditioning, indoor heating or fans. Accommodations are approximately 10-25 minutes outside of the village by car.

Food icon Food: Three meals per weekday are provided, and two meals on weekend days are provided. Meals will be local cuisine and typically include rice and vegetables.

 

Please take note of this project’s minimum requirements:

  • Advanced level of English (does not have to be your native language)
  • Minimum age of 18 (or 16-17 with parental consent)
  • Police clearance
  • Interest in traditional Japanese culture

There is endless fun awaiting you in Nagano! During winter, there are many ski resorts to visit, and in summer, travelers can easily find places to hike and kayak. During free weekends, and at their own expense, volunteers can visit:

  • Onsen hot springs
  • Snow Monkey Park (Home to wild snow monkeys that enjoy bathing in hot springs!)
  • Various ski resorts (including those where the Winter Olympics of 1998 were held!)
  • Matsumoto Castle
  • The Zenkoji Temple and more.

Volunteer Experiences

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