When we were in Japan for the first time it was freezing cold and we couldn’t even dream about hanami – spotting sakura flowers all over the place. This year we came back just at the right time to experience the overwhelming season of cherry blossoms.
We got approved to the project in Nagano prefecture – Hoshina Farm that we worked at was situated near Suzaka but we drove there every day from the charming traditional town of Obuse. You know this feeling when you do some sightseeing, walking around a museum, gallery or a temple? We felt like that most of the time 🙂 being surrounded by Japanese culture and history was extraordinary, we even took part in one Obusession – a cultural event locally hold by our host’s company.
We were lucky to stay in Watanabe shared house in the most traditional and central part of the town, with the house itself being like from the samurai movie… for European sleeping on tatami and futons, having paper doors and eating rice with tofu for breakfast is a real life changer! We thoroughly enjoyed the experience! So as said – the accomodation was amazing, with our own room in the house kept by the hosts for helpers and workers till Hoshina is ready for tenants. The hosts, especially Joe was super friendly, always caring about our well-being and remembering both about drinks during work hours and food supplies for the helpers. We felt really appreciated for the work we’ve done and would like to thank Joe again for all his kindness. We learnt plenty about farm life and jobs while enjoying ourselves discussing culture or travel-related topics, listening to his opera singing in the orchards or getting to know more about history of the place from back in time, how cool is that! We arranged our working ours to fit in with Joe’s schedule when possible, he is a really great person and a teacher by heart – we arrived in Obuse with a little farming knowledge and left passionate farming/gardening amatours 🙂 And we aim for more – big part of our current project is landscaping and gardening for soon to be opened eco-resort, we also plan on continuing farming experiences with future hosts.
Even though the time we arrived was quite hectic and Joe and Sarah were really busy with all the big changes in life, like moving houses and such, we managed to gain a lot of experience, got some friends among helpers and locals and visit few of local highlights in the weekends.
We’ve spent in Obuse nearly two months – from late sakura blooming, through admiring apple trees in full blossom till the intoxicating aromas of chestnut flowers, we did plenty of planting, weeding and watering and managed to even get a taste of first berries!
Hoshina project has been unique and unforgetable experience. We got to know a lot about rural Japan, had chance to chat with locals, immerse into their culture and see how different it is not just from Europe but even from Japanese city life 🙂 It may have been a bit of cultural shock at times but we found this time rewarding after all.
Apart from our day to day responsibilities we took over the blogging part from Lee Lee, who left to Malaysia after spending a couple of months in Watanabe house, so you can check http://hoshinafarm.wordpress.com/ for more pictures and updates on our work in May and June 2013.