Japan – Otaki Village Agriculture

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Immerse yourself into Japanese farming culture by lending a hand at a traditional village farm! In addition to helping a local farm, volunteers will gain valuable cultural experience.

Program Highlights

  • A GoEco Best 10 Volunteer Abroad Program for 2020
  • Experience authentic Japanese culture by assisting farmers in a small, hillside village
  • Help in the daily operations and maintenance of a sustainable village farm
  • 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: Wake up at sunrise to help with chores before working 2-5 hours at the farm. Throughout the week, volunteers will be able to 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 8 weeks

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

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work:  Farming, agriculture

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.

Volunteer tasks vary by season. During spring, summer and fall, most tasks will take place outside and involve fieldwork. During winter months, tasks will be mainly indoors and will focus on the conservation of the harvest as well as handicrafts. The village families are very traditional and treasure their Japanese culture. They are eager to share their traditions and customs with volunteers, so cultural exchange is also a large part of this program.

Summer tasks include:

  • Fertilizing fields
  • Plowing fields
  • Planting / harvesting
  • Maintaining fences to keep out the monkeys and wild boars
  • Maintaining the water supply system
  • Partaking in various, group cultural activities


Winter tasks include:

  • Harvest conservation
  • Handicrafts
  • Partaking in various, group cultural activities


Please note: During the months of January and February participants will assist the elders in the community with snow removal and can engage in winter sports such as sledding or snow trekking as well as the other weather permitting activities described.

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. 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:

  • Basic level of English
  • Police clearance
  • Minimum age of 18 (or 16-17 with parental consent)
  • Moderate level of physical fitness
  • 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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