Seven days later after our arrival in Japan, we took the train from Yokohama to Hadano, in the Kanagawa Prefecture, the place where we were planning to start our first, two weeks long Workaway experience.
But before telling you about our experience let us specify a few details that describe what Workaway is. It is a platform for travelers that are willing to offer their contribution to a project in return for accommodation or food (or both). The projects are posted by hosts around the world, offering to travelers also a closer approach to local lifestyle and language practice. You can sign up for an account on Workaway.info and choose between a single or a couple account. After you can search for thousands of projects and find the one that suits you best. Probably the best part of it is that you are not committed to a certain period of time unless previously agreed to with your host. We think it is one of the best ways to travel when trying to combine touristic activities with the local life experience.
“Go straight on the road till the Coca Cola vending machine and on the left-hand side you will find the house” were the instructions from our host that led us to an old Japanese style house, which became our home and workplace for two weeks.
We found two friendly people there, Rio and Carrie, our hosts and our guides to the Japanese lifestyle and delicious cuisine. We believe that beautiful places are made even more beautiful by the people that you find there. And Rio and Carrie were the people that made our experience at their house truly unforgettable. Sleeping on tatami beds, waking up with fresh ground coffee and enjoyable small talk over dinner were just some of the highlights of our stay.
We were given different tasks that continued the work of other “workawayers” from the past. We sanded walls, painted, cut wood and helped with the cleaning and the cooking in the house. At the end of each day we had some time for ourselves and enjoyed hot tea and some internet connection under the kotatsu (a low, wooden table frame covered by a blanket, upon which a tabletop sits and with a heat source underneath… it’ easier to describe it with pictures, as it isn’t common to see such a setup in a regular house :)
In our free days, we went to discover the beautiful places surrounding Mount Fuji, like Hakone and Lake Ashi, we went hiking in the mountains near Hadano and spent lazy afternoons while planning our upcoming trip to the south of Japan. Rio proved to be a good guide and showed us around Hadano and in some of the evenings him and Carrie took us out for dinner, so we could get familiarized with the Japanese food that we haven’t tried yet.
What is worth mentioning about Workaway projects is that you will usually be asked to work 4 to 5 hours a day, so there’s always time for all the other things you want to do: sleep, read, go out etc. What we enjoyed most about our experience was taking a long break after the long travel days in the Russian Federation and after our arrival in Japan but also having the occasion to meet new people and make friends.
Two weeks later we said goodbye to Diversity Hadano and took the bus towards Kyoto and Osaka, famous historical destinations and a paradise for food lovers.