Are you looking for a more adventurous way of traveling in Japan? Do you want to save money when you travel? Do you wish to become engaged with the daily lives of Japanese people? Are you interested in a more sustainable way of life? If you answered yes to any of the questions, WWOOF Japan may be for you.
As cited on their official site, “WWOOF is a worldwide movement linking volunteers with organic farmers and growers to promote cultural and educational experiences based on trust and non-monetary exchange, thereby helping to build a sustainable, global community.” They are present in many countries across the globe, including Japan.
WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities in Organic Farming) has hundreds of members all over Japan, where travelers are offered accommodation, food, and social engagement in exchange for helping out the host in what they do for a living. The hosts’ field of work can vary greatly – from plantations to coffee houses, ranches, educational centers, or backpacker lodges, but you can be sure that they do their job in an organic, environmentally friendly way.
As the work you do counts as volunteering, a work visa is not required, however, you are always advised to check your own visa regulations with your embassy.
The Japanese website gives you a good overview of hosts and answers many frequently asked questions on the main idea. However, getting started may still feel a little overwhelming. Here are 6 useful tips for those interested in becoming involved.
- Be flexible about locations. Don’t be afraid to try places you’ve never heard of. You are going there to learn and have an adventure, and if you’d like to visit several places, maybe you can check out other nearby hosts.
- Know what you are comfortable with. Make sure you know what will be expected of you before you decide anything. If you have questions about the work, consult the website. WWOOFers can ask as many questions as they like before they go.
- Have an open mind. When choosing possible hosts, it makes it easier if you only narrow your focus once you have a good number of options.
- Read the things the website prompts you to. Always check out the host’s full page to avoid asking questions that can already be answered on their provided information.
- Bring appropriate clothing for the work you will do. Your task might not be fully clear before you go, but working in a ski fields area or in a ranch naturally needs different attire. Keep this in mind before you go.
- Use a planner or some other method to keep track of important information. Once you have made an arrangement with a host and they provided their contact information, save it, write it down, and keep it safe.
- If you can, take a small gift to the hosts. It’s generally considered good manners in Japan to give a small gift to the owners of the house where you’re staying. Something small that is unique to your home country would be ideal.
There has been even a book published on the topic (Japanese only).
WWOOF is truly a great opportunity to learn about Japanese culture from a different perspective and gives you the chance to contribute to the local area. By traveling with WWOOF, you can make friends with local people, help them out, and save money on your accommodation costs. Try out WWOOF for something a little different!