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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:
Winter tasks include:
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: WiFi is available in public areas.
Laundry: Volunteers should be prepared to wash their clothes by hand.
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: 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:
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: