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Murayama Yamagata
All Year: No. Please check below
Area (ha): 1
Persons: couples preferred
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 5249
Country: Japan

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Last Updated: August 24, 2014

****Openings available for Autumn and early winter (until end of December)!*****

Hi, we are currently looking for hardworking friendly people to help during the 2014 farming season, from rice planting to harvesting with much in between. Come and join us while we still have space!

More about what we do:
We grow rice, cherries, apples, peaches, corn and soy-beans on our farm here in Murayama-Shi in the middle of the very beautiful Yamagata Prefecture in the north part of Japan. We grow a premium rice without chemicals and more labour intensive traditional methods which we sell direct to the customer. Our orchards unfortunately are not organic, but we are researching ways to substitute natural sprays.

We are a big (crazy) family: 4 generations, 10 people including our new daughter Hana! Apart from my wife and I, my family only speaks Japanese! Everyone is very friendly, but you will definitely need a sense of humour, patience and a willingness to try to communicate. You would eat with the family (traditional Japanese food - so rice for breakfast and lots of fish; no fussy eaters or vegetarians please) and sleep in our new purpose built guest house with wood burning stove.
There are lots of hot springs nearby, and lots of historic and famous temples and shrines nearby. This is one corner of Japan which does not get many tourists and is still very rural and traditional. Hence it is sometimes called 'Hidden Japan'.

We need people for the following seasons:
We get busy from March onwards.

The end of May/start of June is rice planting season. This doesn't involve much heavy lifting, but it can be quite sore on your back. This is quite nice gentle work (relatively!).

June is cherry season.
We start work picking cherries at 4:30am and will sometimes still be working at 7pm. No heavy lifting involved, but this is tough. We don't rest during cherry season until all the cherries are picked (it takes about 10 days). We usually pick until 9 or 10 am and then check sort and pack the cherries. Cherry season can make grown men cry!

August is weeding in the rice paddy and veg patch. This is very hot, expect 35 degrees plus and very hard work. Expect back pain.

The end of September is harvest season. This is heavy work involving lots of lifting and carrying, but it is the most satisfying job of the year. We don't use big machines so we do most of the work by hand.

Mid October is threshing season. This involves heavy lifting.

We have various jobs in between these busy periods too.

We don't usually take people in winter as there is no farm work, but anyone willing to shovel snow (there is a lot of it) would be a big help this year.

All our farmwork is physically demanding. It can also require getting up early and work can often go on till dark. Growing rice is not easy!

That said, we try to live well and play hard too. Visits to hot springs, hiking, gathering wild veg and mushrooms in the mountains, gathering shellfish, sea fishing, trips to the beach and days out to local places of interest would be usual when the hard work is finished. We can also promise you great food, fine sake and a unique experience living with a traditional Japanese family, learning traditional Japanese skills! We make Japanese pickles, miso, tofu, bacon, beer, cider and homemade sake etc. We also teach traditional Japanese crafts such as making straw sandals.

The bullet train (shinkansen) comes here direct from Toyko. It takes about 3 and a half hours. Night buses run from Tokyo and are significantly cheaper (if slower). Buses running to Shinjo will stop in Murayama itself. If you get a bus to Yamagata you will need to get on a local train to Murayama. Please ask for help and advice.

We have had some really nice helpers so far and really enjoyed having people come and stay. We look forwards to meeting many more helpxers!

Find us on Facebook, see link above, where you can see more photos and videos about us and what we do. Please note that all helpers should approach us via this website and not via Facebook. Thank you.

You can also learn more about Yamagata and things to see and do in the local area on our website, see link above.

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