Where did we end up today in Japan?
Keihoku, Japan. It's Thursday, October 26, 2018.
We stayed in Keihoku with our WWOOF hosts. WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. You can sign up on their website, select a host from an area you'd like to visit, and chat with them until making arrangements to volunteer in exchange for room and board.
The exact specifications vary considerably, so be sure to research a bit before randomly selecting a host.
Where we stayed in Keihoku
We're using an alternative route to budgeting by doing some volunteering on a farm. We won't enclose the details of our host's home, but WWOOFing is definitely an option worth checking out. You can learn more about WWOOFing here.
What did we do today?
We dined at Kyoto Station's 10th floor of ramen
Who would have thought that a train and bus station would have over 10 floors of shopping, food, and other conveniences? Not us!
Ben had read of a floor entirely of ramen shops, so we decided to see what was up. Upon reaching the 10th floor, it held true. There were so many options to choose from, but one of them stood out.
What drew us in was the fact that they had a free bowl of hard boiled eggs before your meal. Hungry already, we began munching down until realizing that the eggs were actually intended to be put into the ramen - woops!
Being our first legitimate restaurant meal, we were thoroughly impressed with the service of the staff. The shop was tidy and clean, with everything being timed efficiently. We were in and out in no time!
It's worth mentioning that the service here in Japan is out of this world. From timely and affordable public transportation to the overall cleanliness of the country, the spirit of Japan reigns over every detail of life.
We joined our WWOOF hosts at their farm and picked edamame
We were so excited upon our arrival that we set out to do some farming right away. Our hosts showed us one of their farms that they rent out for super cheap (in comparison to the United States.)
As we walked to the farm, a couple locals passed us by and we greeted each other warmly. While we don’t know too much Japanese, everyone understands a smile. It’s great to be able to cross the barriers of language and reach out through our universal human experience.
On the farm itself, we were handed some bags and led to a bed of edamame. It was the first time we saw the plant, but they trusted us enough to get picking the beans.
We cleaned up their back yard of fallen trees from the typhoon
The typhoon that hit Japan was no joke. Even up in the mountains in Keihoku we witnessed the extent of its damage.
Our hosts tasked us with removing a fallen tree from the typhoon and cutting it up to prepare as firewood.
They have a traditional bath here with a stove outside that takes a while to heat up. These trees, once dried, burn quite well and make excellent firewood. Fires here are quite common, with everyone burning their flammable trash and recycling the rest. Living in California, we haven't had a chance to play with fire in a long time, as it is always banned due to droughts.
Another tree had to be trimmed as its branches were nearly getting tangled in the power lines overhead. This clearly presented a safety issue, so we didn't hesitate.
Later, we learned that the leaves on the branches were actually bay leaves, which are used as an herb in cooking. They were trimmed and bagged several days later, each leaf sold for 10 yen with 5 leaves per bag. Who says money doesn't grow on trees?
Our WWOOF host provided us with vegan ramen for dinner
To think that our day has been filled with ramen is a great joy. From a beefy ramen in downtown Kyoto to a delicious vegan version from an organic farm in Keihoku, we definitely satiated our craving for the time being!
So far, we've had an enormous opportunity to explore multiple sides of Japan. Usually it's just the two of us running around and staying at hostels, so WWOOFing is a great opportunity to connect with locals and have a more wholesome experience.
Our hosts - one, a Canadian transplant living in Japan, and the other a Budhhist Monk - were warm and welcoming people that opened their doors to us, allowing us to experience Japan through a different lens. We chatted about a variety of topics, from mindfulness and travel to organic farming and veganism.
After supper, we all helped clean up and then rested for the evening before our first day on the farm!
How much did we spend budgeting in Keihoku?
Food: ¥1130 / $10.07 – Had Japanese ramen on the 10th floor of Kyoto Station before departure, and it was bomb! This was our first meal eating out since we had no hostel to cook.
Transport: ¥1130 / $10.08 – Took the last stop to Shuzan from Kyoto station.
Lodging: $0 – WWOOFing is free!
Other: ¥500 / $2.23 – We bought a gift of yatsuhashi for our WWOOF hosts upon arrival.
Today: ¥2506 / $22.38
If only every day could be like this, right? Haha!
Did we make our budget today?
Yes, of course we did. Now, that goes without saying; we are using this time to cut back on the expenses that we procured during our traveling.
To keep updated on our WWOOFing experience, be sure to subscribe to our Facebook page, Instagram and blog!
Until next time, safe travels!