Tips for Choosing Your WWOOF Japan Host

WWOOF Nagano
My favorite photo from WWOOFing in Nagano.

Things are getting hot here in Tokyo. One of these days it will be fall.

In the mean time, I’m trying to keep my mind off the heat by answering some messages that have been sitting in my inbox for a shamefully long time.

Back in university, I volunteered in Japan with a program called WWOOF Japan.” WWOOF stands for “Willing Workers on Organic Farms.” WWOOF is an an organization that connects organic farmers and hosts to volunteers.

I mentioned WWOOF Japan a while back on a post about free places to stay in Japan. The basic gist is that, after paying a one-time low-cost membership fee, you volunteer on a farm (or other organic institution) in exchange for lodging and food.

WWOOFing is a great way to meet like-minded people. You can learn a lot about farming and Japan and save some money on travel.

A few weeks ago, I received a Facebook message from a friend asking some questions about WWOOF Japan.

Since many people seem to be interested in learning more about WWOOF, I decided I would post my reply to that message on this blog.

My experience with WWOOF Japan

I did WWOOFing in 2009 in Ibaraki Prefecture for about ten days. After that, I WWOOFed in Nagano Prefecture for about two weeks. I really enjoyed it and want to do it again sometime.

Visa for WWOOFing in Japan

For Japan, as long as you aren’t working for compensation, you don’t need a special visa. I just used my standard 3-month tourist visa (“temporary visitor visa” automatically given to US citizens) when I WWOOFed. Of course, lodging and food could count as compensation.

However, the WWOOF Japan website states that the program has nothing to do with money or employment.

When asked by Narita immigration what my purpose in Japan was, I replied something along the lines of cultural exchange/home-stay/volunteer. I had no problems.

Choosing a WWOOF host

I chose the places I wanted to work based on area, type of work, and whether they had cats (I’m allergic). I wanted somewhere close to Narita first.

Then, I wanted a host close to the language school I would attend near Nagoya after WWOOFing. Actually, I messed up a little bit and ended up WWOOFing in Nagano instead of Nagoya. Actually, Nagano is extremely beautiful, so no regrets.

There are a ton of different types of WWOOF Japan hosts. In Ibaraki, I stayed at a family’s place that ran an English school and had some gardens. Then, in Nagano, I stayed at an fruit orchard/rice farm. Both had me doing tasks for about six hours a day. I had one rest day per week. Helping with the English school was fun.

I will admit that the farming, though, was tough at times. Still, I anticipated this. If you read the hosts’ profiles carefully to see what they expect, you should be fine. The profiles list the time commitment per day and what kind of work you’ll be doing. You can also message the host directly before visiting.

In Japan, there are hosts that run traditional farms, nature centers, English schools, onsens/hotels/ryokan, patisseries, and so on. I’ve heard stories about hosts who required only about two hours a day, but also ones who expected more than six hours a day. It really depends on the host.

Conclusion

I hope this answered some of your questions! Let me know if you have anything else you are interested in knowing.

I definitely plan on writing a proper post about WWOOF Japan in the future, so keep an eye out.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

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9 thoughts on “Tips for Choosing Your WWOOF Japan Host

  1. Lam says:

    Hi,
    Thank you for your sharing!
    I get stuck in Japan from Mảch because of the virus so I am looking for wwoofing host. Can I get the contact of the farm in Nagano? Sorry for asking this but I run out of money to afford WWOOFING membership.
    Many thanks!

    Reply
    1. L. says:

      I’m sorry to hear about your situation. I’m afraid I am no longer in touch with my WWOOF hosts. I hope you are able to find a solution! You may wish to reach out to your embassy, if that is an option.

      Reply
  2. Nurul says:

    hai…I’m Nurul. I am a wwoofer in this month. I get the problem with wwoof, I can’t log in with my user name, they said “your log in is blocked”. please…help me, why is it happen??what must I do now??

    Reply
  3. Poppy says:

    Hello! Great blog, I just found your website and it is very informative. I was also looking in on WWOOFing in Japan and was wondering if you’ve written an updated post yet?

    Reply
    1. L. says:

      Thank you for your kind words. I haven’t written an update post on WWOOFing, but hopefully I can make more of an organized article later. Let me know if there’s anything specific you are curious about concerning WWOOF.

      Reply
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    Reply
  5. Chrissie Reilly says:

    Hi, great post!

    I am a fellow WWOOFer (five times since 2004, as recently as January 2013, all in Japan) and I am also a graduate student studying agriculture and volunteer tourism. I am doing my PhD at the University of Maryland Baltimore County focusing on WWOOFers who volunteered in Japan. Right now, I’m trying to connect and meet with WWOOFers who might be interested in doing a recorded in-person interview on their experiences sometime in the next year. My website has details about my research. If you’re interested, I’d love to hear from you!

    Reply
    1. L. says:

      Hi Chrissie,

      Thank you so much for your comment.

      It’s always great to meet a fellow WWOOFer!
      I’d be happy to share my experiences with WWOOF Japan, so I’ll send you an e-mail.

      Best of luck with your research.

      Reply

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