Where are we today in Japan?
It's Friday, November 2, 2018.
This is our final full day WWOOFing in Japan, tomorrow consisting of cleaning up the place, laundry, and last-minute errands.
What an experience this has been for us already, and to think it's not over yet!
What did we do today WWOOFing in Japan?
Waking after a long sleep to the bitter cold, we meet the world with fresh eyes to...
Slice persimmons and hang them to dry
Our hosts have a large hachiya persimmon tree in their backyard, from which the fruit is picked, peeled, and hung for about a month to dry. Originally, the fruit is inedible and very tart; when left to dry, a natural sugar coating forms on the fruit, naturally creating a delicious treat known as hoshigaki.
To prepare them, we peeled away the skin and the stem until it resembled a "T." This made it easy to hang the fruit on a string by simply tying a knot around the stem. Soon enough, we had several persimmons dangling about, looking like Christmas ornaments.
Peeling the persimmons was a lot like carving an apple - hard to the core, but with random soft spots throughout. They were tempting to snack on, but our host informed us that it was well worth the wait.
Later that evening, the stash of dried persimmons was brought out from the freezer. Our host had previously dried the fruit and froze the leftovers. When they thawed out, we took a bite and were blown away. The taste resembled dates, and was nature's very own candy.
We weeded a bed of potatoes and daikon radish
Japan's soil is so lush and rich that everything seems to grow like crazy, especially in a fertile and mountainous region like Keihoku.
Today we tackled the last bit of weeding we had left on the daikon radish, and got to work on weeding a potato bed.
Weeds spread to cover the whole mound of soil, squeezing into every crevice available to them. It can be quite tricky to pull them without damaging the vegetables - especially the daikon, who's leaves snap at a feather's touch. Somehow we managed to yoink out the majority of them without causing too much collateral damage!
We brought out the weed-wacker for the overgrown garden
The perimeter of the garden had been swallowed by dense weeds and random shrubbery. In hopes of clearing out the garden, the weed-wacker was the weapon of choice to shred the tall grass to pieces. Mindful of the plant beds and mesh fence, Ben powered through the grass until the machine tapped out of fuel and we called it a night.
We soothed our bodies and minds in a onsen
An onsen, for those unaware, is a Japanese public bath house. This was our first time experiencing an onsen, courtesy of our hosts. We all went to visit the nearest one, which is quite unlike anything we've ever seen before.
There are several different styles of onsens, but the one we went to was slightly more high-end, versus the outdoor ones we had seen all over the internet.
The interior was equipped with all the spa amenities one could think of: a dining area, a lounge, massage chairs, and the like. Men and women were separated, and they each had locker rooms for storage and large public shower areas. Near the showers was a large jacuzzi with electric jets, and a small pool filled with ice-cold water. Be informed that you will be nude among other guests, minus a small towel to dry with!
Outside, natural sulfur baths maintained a hot temperature for guests to soak in while admiring the beauty of Japanese maple trees. There was an area nearby to lay on the ground and soak in only an inch or so of hot water, and a large sauna with a TV in it!
Hot and cold treatment
Upon arrival to the onsen, our host had suggested we try one of her favorite techniques: soak in the onsen for a bit, get nice and hot - and then, immediately afterward, plunge into the ice-cold water. Not ones to turn down a challenge, we gave it a shot!
We lounged in the onsen for a bit until we got nice and toasty. Hesitant to leave the warm bath, we got up and headed toward the cold pool. We tip-toed down the steps into the freezing water, stopping for a brief second to rationalize our decision. Before we could second-guess ourselves, we immersed ourselves in the chilly water.
The warm blood coursed through our veins and we could feel every beat of our hearts as oxygen pulsated throughout our bodies. Our lungs felt icy, and soon the novelty wore off, leaving us shriveled to the core.
It was time to get out!
We then took our heavy icicle legs to the jacuzzi bath. Our bodies thawed out as we dunked into the steamy water before us. Electric jets on the sides of the jacuzzi relieved our achy muscles from all of the farm work as we sat mesmerized by the sensation.
We relaxed for a bit until sweat started to trickle down our foreheads. Back to the ice bath we went!
We repeated this several times before finally rinsing off in the shower, then heading back for the night.
How much did we spend budgeting today in Keihoku, Japan?
Food: ¥550 / $4.90 (We grabbed a couple pastries from the supermarket.)
Today: ¥550 / $4.90
Did we make our $40 budget in Keihoku today?
We got our daily average down to $38 now.
If you're thinking of how to budget effectively while traveling, WWOOFing is a great option to help save some cash and learn some valuable skills along the way.
It also helps that there's no supermarkets or restaurants within walking distance where we'd otherwise be tempted to purchase things.
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Until next time, safe travels!