This article introduces some of the activities that one can enjoy while staying at a farm in Japan. From picking vegetables and eating fresh home-cooked food, enjoying the natural scenery, to sleeping in a futon, these are all things that one can experience.
When taking a trip to Japan, there are various options when it comes to accommodation. For those travelers who want to spend their down time relaxing, there are many hotels and Japanese ryokans to choose from. If you would like to get in touch with the locals and make some friends, there are also plenty of hostels and guesthouses too. However, if you would like to stay in a place surrounded by nature and experience the authentic living in Japan, we recommend the type of accommodation called nōka minpaku – staying at a farmer’s residence.
What is nōka minpaku?
Nōka minpaku means that while you are staying at a Japanese farmer’s house, you can experience growing vegetables, working in the fields and taking part in other kinds of activities in the community. By experiencing the agricultural life firsthand, you can interact with the locals and learn more about the local culture. Farm residence stays are available all over Japan. In this article, we followed the experience of a group of students from the University of Central Florida who stayed at farms in Otawara city, Tochigi prefecture.
Otawara is priamarily an agricultural city. In addition to the wonderful views created by the mountainous area around the city and the Nakagawa River, which flows right through the heart of the city, you can enjoy the refreshing sight of the rice fields. The vivid green scenery is a truly relaxing view.
By staying at a farm, you can try your hand at field work. Picking potatoes and other seasonal vegetables together with your host family is truly a nice experience, and a great change from the daily routine if you do not usually do agriculture on a daily basis. For those international visitors who are actually involved in the agriculture industry in their home countries, it will be a great opportunity to find out how plant cultivation is performed in Japan.
The best part about picking fruit and vegetables with your own hands is being able to see how they directly reach your table. The potatoes picked from the garden an hour before will be presented to you at lunch or dinner, for example, in a popular dish called nikujaga – a dish made with potatoes, meat, onions and carrots, simmered in a broth that contains a tinge of soy sauce.
This is a whole dinner menu made exclusively from the fresh vegetables from the farm. Doesn’t it look delicious?
This is a typical breakfast at a farm. Just by seeing such variety of vividly colored, fresh dishes, one feels full of energy to start a new day!
In addition to eating fresh vegetables and getting involved in agricultural activities, there are many other aspects of farm stay that one will be able to experience, such as sleeping in a futon (traditional Japanese bedding). You will surely be surprise by how soft and comfortable the futon is!
The nature surrounding the farms is both a relaxing and an inspiring environment. This scenery is from Otawara, where the greenery and the refreshing sound of the small river inspires you to gather your thoughts and recharge.
Seeing beautiful flowers in their natural environment is also something you can hardly experience in a city. These wonderful dahlias are just some of the flowers that caught our attention on the way home.
And sometimes, if you are lucky, you can even encounter cute fellows like this one! This small frog resting on the calyx of a calla lily looks just like a character from an illustrated story book.
Choosing to stay at a farm in Japan instead of a usual accommodation will be an enriching, fun experience. In addition to being able to stay in a place surrounded by nature and engaging in farm activities, one of the best aspects of a farm stay is being able to interact with your host family. There are thousands of farmer families in Japan who open their homes to international visitors who want to experience farm stay. Do take the opportunity and enjoy their hospitality!
For your information:
Related links: Ohtawara Tourism http://www.ohtawaragt.co.jp/ (Japanese)