Japan – English Exchange

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


Program Highlights

  • Experience authentic Japanese culture by assisting in a charming and very small, hillside village
  • Help a local community with modest English language skills to improve their conservational abilities
  • 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 travel independently from the airport and navigate by 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 English

Age Age:  Minimum age of 21

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: The program runs with even one volunteer and can host up to 20 international volunteers at one time.


What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: Shared rooms in a traditional Japanese homestay environment

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, airport transfer by bus to the pickup point at Shinjuku  bus station (12-30 USD), lunches on weekends, return airport transfer (approx. $60 USD), personal expenses.

Japan seamlessly blends traditionalism and modernism, offering a captivating juxtaposition of cultures. From the serene traditional villages where locals peacefully rest on tatami mats to the bustling metropolis of Tokyo, the country encapsulates a rich tapestry of customs. The English exchange program unfolds in the enchanting village of Otaki, nestled in the mountainous Nagano Prefecture in central Japan. Otaki, with its small and charming nature, epitomizes the idyllic traditional Japanese village. Surrounded by the breathtaking landscapes that hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics, this region boasts not only cultural richness but also a thriving natural environment.

As you explore Otaki, you’ll find yourself immersed in a world where the coexistence of tradition and nature is seamlessly intertwined. The village, situated amidst majestic mountains, is not only a testament to Japan’s cultural heritage but also a haven for wildlife, including bears. The locals, with a warm and welcoming spirit, embody the essence of traditional Japanese hospitality. However, it’s noteworthy that the community has a limited proficiency in English, making the English exchange program an invaluable opportunity for cultural exchange. This unique setting provides participants with the chance to not only enhance language skills but also to deeply connect with a community that lives harmoniously with both tradition and the untamed beauty of nature.



The core of the volunteer work in Otaki Village involves helping locals gain confidence and practice in speaking English, in the effort to support the community in boosting tourism and job opportunities. Volunteers facilitate conversation afternoons at the community house, creating a platform for villagers and local business owners to interact with foreigners comfortably. The aim is not only to improve language skills but also to break down barriers and encourage openness to foreign cultures. Volunteers spend approximately 4 hours per day engaging in conversations at the community house or other locations in/around Otaki.

Depending on the season, participants may also be invited to practice English pronunciation at the local primary school through activities like singing songs together. Besides language practice, volunteers join cultural and outdoor activities to explore local culture and surroundings.

This program is well-suited for mature travelers comfortable navigating areas of Japan with a significant language barrier. Volunteers should have some previous travel experience and be at ease working with local staff, utilizing translation apps to communicate and navigate during their stay in this charming village. A volunteer’s enthusiastic engagement will contribute significantly to the success of this enriching cultural exchange.


Some of your tasks may include:

  • Host conversation afternoons at the community center
  • Engage in conversations with locals to help them practice English
  • Occasionally visit the local primary school for English pronunciation activities
  • Be available for conversations during breakfast and dinner
  • Participate in cultural and outdoor activities with other volunteers and locals


Note: Schedule may be subject to changes based on weather conditions, local factors, and unforeseen circumstances.

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 experience traditional Japanese living fully. Volunteers stay in shared, single-gender dorms with up to seven others per room in a local traditional Japanese homestay. Expect shared bathrooms and Japanese-style bedding with tatami mats on the floor. While hot showers and Western-style toilets are available, there’s no air conditioning, indoor heating, or fans. Bring warm clothes for cooler nights. Accommodations are approximately 10-25 minutes outside the village by car, ensuring an immersive local experience.

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 is 21.
  • Mature volunteers aged 18 or older with travel experience in countries with language barriers may be considered for exceptions.
  • 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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