Nohaku is a unique homestay experience where guests get to step into the lives of local families that work in […]
Green Tourism and Homestay in Saiki, Oita.
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September 3, 2017
After visiting Usuki known for its castle, its samurai streets, and the Stone Buddhas carved into the volcanic rock, I had the chance to visit a rather special accommodation: I will sleep at the home of a couple of farmers, who own vegetable gardens and even rice fields. Ideal for green tourism enthusiasts looking for an experience to connect with nature, the environment, and ecology closer to farmers and the Japanese countryside.
Staying at a Local Farm, a Local Experience in the Heart of the Japanese Countryside
The farmer’s house where stayed was about 45 minutes by car from the Usuki Stone Buddhas carved in the rock, towards Saki city.
The driveway was beautiful and we passed through several valleys before coming upon this small village which has only eight or nine houses.
The house where I stayed is run by a nice couple, Mr. and Mrs. Sato. Both are about 75 years old but look much younger. They are still quite active despite Mr. Sato having a bad leg. I enjoyed talking with them and noticed they have a certain accent. In addition to their personal activity in the fields, they get up every day very early (sometimes 1 am) to distribute the mail to the surrounding villagers.
They used to run a tofu shop, so they have a passion for cooking and will happily share any an all information about the cuisine and local food they cook in their beautiful kitchen.
They do not speak English but with gestures and the few phrases I knew, we managed to make ourselves understood. They often welcome tourists into their home (Malaysians, Indians, Japanese …), so they are used to having tourists around them, and communicating through various means.
While staying at Mr. and Mrs. Sato’s accomodations we slept in a normal Japanese house. The rooms reserved for the tourists are integral parts of the house. They are not separated from the main building but rather they are a part of it, and therefore you really get to experience life in the Japanese countryside. It is really a great experience to do if you come to Japan as it actually allows you to feel how Japanese live their daily lives, and it is not very expensive either! It is best to arrive around 3:30 pm to 4 pm to sit quietly and help them pick up vegetables and cook. The atmosphere is friendly and family oriented, I loved it!
The beautiful countryside before arriving at the farmer’s inn.
This house is where I am going to stay!!
The wisteria garden must be beautiful in full bloom in May.
The mountain view in front of the house.
Japanese traditional old house.
A lotus flower.
Before we started to cook, we went to put our luggage in our room. The woman made us choose between two rooms: a Japanese style room, sleeping on the floor. Or a western style room, with western stylr raised beds. I preferred to sleep in the Japanese room. It had a small balcony overlooking the small river which is right in front of the house. The bathroom and toilets were located on the ground floor.
Pick Up Local Vegetables and Cook with Farmers !
It’s time to start cooking ! The farms are located 100 meters from the house. They have plenty of vegetables: cucumber, pumpkin, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cabbage, eggplant, sweet pepper, ginger, goya and so much more!
Put them in the basket gently
Filling the basket, it’s time to go home !
The harvest of the day !
Madame Sato, a wonderfully generous woman
The Dinner at Farmer’s Inn
It was still very early but we often eat early in the Japanese countryside, especially because of the lifestyle and work hours of the farmers.
The kitchen was large and was located in the main room where there was a TV, and a coffee table. We began by washing all the vegetables, to prepare some of them for the meal. Meanwhile, the gentleman in the kitchen watched the sumo game on TV. The atmosphere was 100% Japanese!
We ate very well, first eggplant then everything was quickly made: potato salad, pickles, tofu, grilled peppers that had been harvested, shrimp in papillote, soup miso, eel.
Grill the eggplant in the pan
Then, add on miso. Simple, but delicious !
The rice cooker, the classical version !
A big shrimp !
Eel donburi as a main dish.
The Breakfast at the Farmer’s Inn
The next morning we got up very early because we had to catch a ferry to visit an island where more cats live than locals. Lucky for us, Madame Sato had prepared a great breakfast: tomatoes harvested the day before, salmon, lots of pickles, small cherry tomatoes, miso soup, rice and grapes.
Before leaving her house, she prepared us onigiri for the road and offered us rice from her farm.
How to Make a Reservation?
They will welcome up to 8 people, please check out more information here.
Price range: The price per person is 6500yens with dinner and breakfast included
By car 31 minutes by car from “Saiki I.C”
By train stop at JR Saiki Station and then 35 minutes drive by car from there.
Original article by : Estelle
Translated by: Aika Ikeda
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