So, where were we?
Ah yes, after doing another round of sightseeing (see recent posts), I headed once again to Tokyo for a few days. There it was more of the same old Tokyo stuff that I always do, and then it was time to hop on a shinkansen to Karuizawa (軽井沢), and then head to my home for the next couple of months – a small village in Gunma Prefecture (群馬県) called Tsumagoi (嬬恋村).
Having mostly experienced living in big cities (Fukuoka, Osaka, Kyoto), I wanted to experience the rural side of Japan. And fortunately for me (and my bank balance) there’s a scheme called WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) whereby you can totally work on a farm virtually anywhere in Japan (in fact it’s worldwide), and in return you’re provided with lodgings, meals and whatnot.
So here I am working on a farm, a cabbage farm no less – apparently Tsumagoi is something like the ‘cabbage capital’ of Japan (a sentence that is perhaps the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever produced), producing 90%+ of the cabbages consumed in Japan. Kinda neat, but it is still just cabbages so nothing to get too excited about.
The folks that i’m staying with/working for are a couple in their late-60s(!), and they run a guesthouse as well as a relatively small cabbage farm, I say ‘relatively’ but there’s still plenty of work to be done, and whilst it varies from planting, watering and misc. tasks like cutting grass etc., at this time of year the main job is harvesting – for which I’ll do a separate post to bore everyone with the cabbage-y details.
Anyway, it’s pretty much nothing like I expected, I didn’t realise before coming here that Karuizawa is synonymous with holiday homes and guesthouses/lodges etc. so it’s a lot less like a ‘village’ than I imagined and more like I’m just staying in a quiet rural retreat. Which isn’t too bad, though it does mean that everything is pretty far away – which is fair, I’ve just been spoiled by cities which excellent transport connections.
But still, plenty of opportunities to practice my Japanese – which is great (the opportunity that is, not my Japanese).
Oh, and bugs, loads of bugs. Though, I do seem to have reached some sort of accord with the bugs in as much as, they don’t bother me and I don’t kill them…is what I like to think, but the reality is more that I don’t think the guesthouse I’m in was used much before my arrival, so the bugs have probably just retreated into the recesses until I leave.
Anyway, look forward to more cabbage-based blog posts coming soon. or not, i don’t know.