WWOOFing at Furumaya farm house.

So I arrived in Kyoto and was in need of some R&R. A former student of mine, Lianhua, lived and studied here and many months previously we had agreed that we would meet again. The time had come. She had arranged for me to stay at her host family’s ‘spare’ 4 storey mansion. It was a little opulent for me, but was a welcome change from the dirt and grime of the road. So, the next week passed. I relaxed, finalized and sent my Russian visa application and then it was time to head up into the mountains for two weeks of WWOOFing.

The farm was about 80kms away. Easily reachable within a day. So I set off at 9am. There were a few steep climbs, but they were getting easier. So by 3.30pm I have arrived at the junction. All I had to do was get on Route 59 and find the farm… Sounds easy. In theory it was however as usual I hadn’t planned paying much attention to the map. I knew I would find it eventually. I hadn’t even written down the farms name, or phone number…. Silly me!

Yes, that’s right I got lost. I took the wrong turn. Turned left instead of right. Therefore spending a wasted 3 hours cycling around like a headless chicken. I found some locals and asked to use their internet so I could get a phone number. I called Sayaka and told her my situation.. She said I was  about 8kms West of where I was supposed to be. I had already done over 100kms and was exhausted. I said I would stay at the train station nearby…. I was disappointed. I made my way to a convenience store and refueled. Suddenly I had a second wind and decided, although it would be rude after having just said I would arrive tomorrow; to go for it!

I had about an hour before night arrived, so I cycled as fast as I could. Climbed back up the steep incline, back from where I had already been 3 times back and forth, and at the crossroad, headed right. 4kms to go and I was told there was a sign. I spotted a sign and turn right into the street. But all the houses just looked normal and no sign stating  which one was a guesthouse. It took another 15 mins or riding around before I was sure I had the correct house and entered and knocked. Sayaka was as expected, surprised to see me. I felt terribly rude, but in a way relieved to have kept to my word.

So here commenced two weeks of WWOOFing. When I arrived there was another WWOOfer Anne, from Malaysia. We got on very well and could openly talk about a variety of topics. She after a day, which was the same day Giacomo and Paola from Italy arrived. They were a young couple and very nice. We also got on well.

Our work for the next week cleaning guests rooms, some occasional weeding the rice paddy. Which is back breaking work, and an obvious reason why there are so many old people walking at almost 90 degree angles. A lifetime of that work is literally crippling! Then Giacomo and I done a lot of Mowing, which was quite fun and reminded me of being back in Forestdale where I grew up. Finally we helped ‘Saige San’, (Sayaka’s Father) built a new deck outside. It was good to learn some new skills. I’ve never considered myself to be the ‘handyman’ type of guy… But now at least I can say I can competently drill a screw!

My birthday also arrived during my time here, which turned out to be a very nice memory. I had told Giacomo, and he must have relayed the information to Sayaka, as the night before we all had some wine to celebrate, and then at dinner on the 29th a cake was presented. Very nice! I’ve had my birthday in a few different countries, and now I will always remember that for my 29th I was in Japan on a farm volunteering.

I also gave a few Yoga classes, which I felt was good experience for me. I felt comfortable giving instructions and could imagine myself doing this in the future. Further cementing my goal to focus on Yoga after this journey is completed!

Also we had an English Cafe, which was where some local Mother’s came with their (very young) children and had a chance to talk in English. I think it was mostly just an excuse for some housewifes to get out the house and catch up on some gossip, but it was good fun and felt like being back in the classroom!

On the eve of my departure we all went to Karaoke. Giacomo and Paola had never been, Sayaka wasn’t drinking. So it was up to me to take the lead! It was good fun. We stayed for two hours, all sang some songs and embarrassed ourselves, and I drank more beer than I had in a long time!

So next morning; after a Tai Chi class led by Giacomo, I packed my bags and said my goodbyes. I could have easily stayed longer however I had set a date and felt obliged to stick it. Also, Lianhua was waiting for my arrival back in Kyoto! So, after a day back on the road, this time mostly downhill which was great I arrived in familiar territory… I had to get to Lianhua’s dorm however. I had been there once and had a rough idea. I managed to get lost for an hour. I eventually arrived by 6pm and was greeted by a cooked dinner from her. Very nice! I am very good at getting lost I have to admit. Hopefully I can limit this ‘skill’ in the coming months.

So that’s a very brief recap of my time at Furumaya. If I was to include everything this post would be a lot longer! If you’re interested in spending some time on a farm in deep Kyoto here is the link to Sayaka’s farm: http://www.furumayahouse.jp/

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