This article introduces all the reasons as to why a visitor in Japan should choose to experience farmhouse stay. From tasting delicious homemade food cooked from fresh ingredients to getting to know the authentic Japanese lifestyle, staying at a farmhouse gives you a unique experience.
We followed the experience of a group of students from the University of Central Florida who stayed at a farm in Otawara city, Tochigi prefecture.
When we arrived at the Japanese-style residence which kindly accepted to host us, we were surprised at how spacious it was! Our gracious host family began by providing a tour of the house and its surroundings. All aspects of daily life from how to lay a futon to how to enter the bath were explained in kind and thorough detail. This provides a reassuring atmosphere for first-time visitors to a traditional Japanese home.
From the kamidana (*4) to the butsudan (*5) in the living room, the house is filled with novel sights sure to delight any visitor to Japan. Discussions of culture and life around the dinner table serve to bring host family and guests closer together. *4 Kamidana: a small Shintō shrine placed in the home. *5 Butsudan: a Buddhist altar placed in a Japanese home reverence to one’s ancestors.
In the morning, we were treated to the delicious homemade breakfast courtesy of the mistress of the farm, after which we headed off to the nearby fields. The endless greenery stretching off into the distance is an impressive sight.
While farm experiences may vary from season to season, during the latter half of July you can try your hand at digging potatoes. Large-scale agricultural facilities generally do this using machines, but self-contained farms still do this by hand. This aspect of the experience was peppered with useful tidbits of knowledge from the farmers themselves on which varieties of potatoes are best for french fries, potato salad or even niku jaga (*6). *6 Niku jaga: a simmered meat, potato and vegetable stew.
Another exciting point to the farm stay experience is learning to cook with freshly harvested ingredients. You can take what you learn on the farm back to your own country and recreate the delicious meals you studied here. This is an opportunity that will last with you for a lifetime.
The host mother and guests gathered around the table for delicious food and fun conversations. A natural bond is formed through shared lifestyle and communal cooking. By becoming part of the local community for a while, you can experience a richer version of the regional culture and customs. If you are considering where to stay, do try the hospitality of a farmer’s residence in Otawara!
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Related links: Ohtawara Tourism http://www.ohtawaragt.co.jp/ (Japanese)