I always see a lot of people asking about volunteering opportunities in Japan. In fact, WWOOF Japan provides many of those chances, especially in the agricultural industry. WWOOF is an acronym meaning World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. The idea of organic farming is not new in Japan, dating back to the early 1930s. However, it is still a small segment of the produce in Japan.
History of Organic Farming
Organic farming practices actually pre-dates all inorganic farming introduced around the time of the industrial revolution. Prior to the 1940s, all traditional farming methods are considered organic. When inorganic farming became a standard practice, then organic farming was born. This was in response to the use of chemicals and pesticides.
In Japan, Masanobu Fukuoka is considered the first person responsible for starting the organic farming practice in Japan. He was originally working as a research scientist on soil microbiologist and plant pathologist. However, his research led him to start to doubt modern inorganic farming techniques. Rather, he quit his job around 1937 and committed his life to exploring alternative ways of organic farming for the next 60 years.
Become a WWOOFer
Generally, as a WWOOFer, you commit to helping out at your designated place for up to 6 hours a day, 6 days a week. Outside of those times, you have free time to do as you wish. This is your chance to go exploring, discover your local area, sights and events that are happening.
There are many examples of experiences you can involve yourself in. For instance organic farms, organic food stores, environmental educational centres, farm cafes, nature guides, pottery and arts centres and more.
In exchange for your support of your designated place, you will be provided with free accommodation and meals. Basically, outside that, all costs are born by the individual. That would include spending money, travel to and from your designated WWOOF place, etc. Your host may be lucky enough to provide transport from a train station or pick you up from a specific location too. Thus, you should check with the individual host.
The other thing to consider is that this experience does not constitute as work. Instead, it is more about a cultural experience and exchange between you and the hosts. Furthermore, the mention of work to immigration may set off alarm bells. Hence it is best to consider it as a cultural experience or exchange program. This also enables people on any visa to enjoy the benefits of participating in this programme.
The same programme also exists in countries like Australia and New Zealand. So, you can find similar opportunities in these nations too.
For more information, you can check out the WWOOF website in English.
If you’re planning your travels in Japan, we invite you to join our rapidly expanding Travel in Japan Discussion Group via facebook.