I had my first WWOOF (WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms) experience in late September, and I found it life-changing. I picked Fujino, in Kanagawa, Japan, because of its transition town status, and because I missed Japan dearly. Almost everyday, I watch the NHK World channel, which occasionally features urban farming and/or slow living television programmes. There’s lots to say about this place, so this post kicks off the first of a three-part series on Fujino, Kanagawa.
Fujino is located one hour by train from Tokyo, and it costs around S$17 to commute between these two points by train, and another S$3 by bus to get to Fujino Club, where I chose to WWOOF. Fujino is the first transition town in Japan, and residents are keen to be self sufficient in its energy use, and already have their own unique currency system known as Yorozu – a passbook which logs the exchange of products or services. This town has long attracted creative folks, and is home to many artists.
Fujino Club’s most notable eco features include its EV (electric vehicle) charging station, solar panels and natural farming methods. However, what I found most memorable was the warmth and connection that I felt in the company of its staff, including its owner, Mr Kuwahara, and his wife, Sachiko. I was so sad to leave that I cried on a few occasions.
During my time there, I worked in the Korean kitchen and at the farms, and a couple of times, I helped out with laundry and cleaning the Airbnb residences. All the work I did felt meaningful and I felt fulfilled at the end of the day, especially when staff members express their sincere gratitude. My work experience there taught me valuable lessons about team dynamics, work ethic, and about identity in a community. I realised that it doesn’t matter what type of work one does – e.g. cooking/cleaning, or one’s title. As long as work needs to be done, anyone can step up to fulfil the task, and having an ego about it is not necessary, because all the work that needs to be done is important.
Also, I ended most of my days at the Yamanami onsen (hot springs) down the road, the perfect way to wind down and recharge before dinner time. Fujino Club gives its WWOOFers two onsen tickets a week – a much appreciated bonus!
The restaurant is cosy, and features beautiful calligraphy by Sachiko, and art work by local painters, potters and sculptors.
The restaurant offers such lovely views, everyday I got to marvel at this.
There is also a tennis court on the premises for those who enjoy sports.