Where are we today in Japan?
Keihoku, Japan. It’s Friday, October 26 2018.
This marks our first full day WWOOFing with our hosts; technically day 2/9. After a great sleep on some traditional bedding on tatami mats, we were pumped and ready for a day of hard work; at least, that's what we thought.
What did we do today WWOOFing?
On the farm, there are endless chores that need to be done at all times. After a cup of coffee, we got right to work!
We cut and trimmed trees in the backyard
The trees and branches were used for firewood where they would be scorched until nothing but ashes remained. The ashes would become compost, put back into the soil for more plants to grow. The remaining bay leaves were set aside to be sorted, packaged and sold to retailers later on.
It's not every day that you get to process your own trash and reuse materials. Often in the cities where we are from, we see the end product of things. This opened our eyes to becoming more mindful of our waste.
Lots of vines attached themselves to a persimmon tree, entangling the bark and suffocating its growth. We wrestled with these thick vines until we pried them all off, giving life back to the tree.
We cleared out the irrigation canal
We helped clear the blockage that disrupted the irrigation canal from flowing. This canal provided water to a rice farm beside it, and was stuffed with weeds and random garbage left behind from others.
The interesting thing about the area is that the land around a house is not necessarily owned by the homeowner. Rather, pieces of landed are distributed among neighbors, and one's house can be a few streets away from their actual land. With that, neighbors help one another and respect each other's property, often times exchanging ownership of land several times.
We began to notice lots of broken pottery and began removing them from the yard, when our host informed us to keep it instead. Apparently, broken pottery represents good luck in gardening and it also disintegrates back into the soil (being soil itself). This gave us a sense of a deeper history and practice behind Japanese tradition.
We stored rice straw for the winter
We were in charge of clearing up the back porch and hauling some rice straw in the back of the truck. From there, it was driven down to the shed where the dry straw could be kept through winter while the damp straw would be used as mulch soon after.
Digging through the straw, Ben had found a beetle hatching. Now we can see where Pokemon got all of its inspiration from! The soil is rich in Japan, and many bugs are teeming throughout.
We harvested and demolished a bean plantation
Several varieties of beans are grown here on the farm, but the ones we were picking today were adzuki beans.
We spent some time harvesting the beans from the plants themselves, and then set them outside to dry. After a few days we will be able to crumble the shell and extract the beans themselves.
We then took down the remaining batch and the leftovers were thrown into the firepit, again contributing to more compost material.
A lot of the veggies here are grown for a season and then, after harvested, the soil lays dormant for a year or so until replanting the next crop.
We reused fire embers to warm the bath
At dusk, we began heating the bath once again. We couldn't imagine what it would be like doing this this every day! Hot water in the United States isn't even something to think about; it's everywhere. At the turn of a faucet, you have hot water; here, you must spend 30 minutes manually building a fire just to have warm water.
Although the temperature of the water didn't affect us much (in fact, we frequently take cold showers as part of our self-care routine), our hosts preferred the bath to replicate an onsen. To those that don't know, an onsen is a traditional Japanese bathhouse combined with either artificial or manmade hot springs. That meant quite a bit of time taming the fire each day to ensure it was well and hot!
Afterward, we enjoyed another 5-star vegan meal from our hosts, consisting of freshly harvested vegetables and organic grains freshly prepared. Our hosts are master chefs here, spoiling us with delicacies already. In between chomping down on some delicious food, we exchanged stories of our lives and travels thus far, before calling it a night and getting some well needed rest for the next day.
How much did we spend WWOOFing in Keihoku?
Not a dime!
Did we make our budget today?
Yes, of course. WWOOFing has immediately helped in reducing our daily expenditure. So far working to our plan, but who knows how it will go.
Until next time, safe travels!