Posted by Voyapon November 15, 2017 Sponsored by Tourism Oita A Night at a Home-stay on Kyushu Island Experien […]
What is Nohaku?
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Nohaku is a unique homestay experience where guests get to step into the lives of local families that work in the field of agriculture, fishing and forestry. Also referred to as “farmstay”, guests immerse into the rural community by working alongside the families and the locals, learning about the culture and the beauty of the land in a very hands on, interactive way.
How Did it All Start?
Nohaku started in the late 1990s in the northern part of Oita prefecture in Usa city’s Ajimu town. It initially started off with experiencing the everyday life of a farmer. However, since then, it’s evolved to what is now referred to as “green tourism” where you can experience the rural life of Japan in various landscapes.
From the seaside to the river, valleys to the mountains, there’s now around 280 different nohaku locations just alone in Oita—each giving you a truly unique experience!
Things You Should Know and Understand Before You Book Your Nohaku Experience
The nohaku experience is about interacting and learning alongside the locals. Let’s be open minded to trying new activities
As a general rule, the host will only be able to welcome one pair (two people) per day
When you arrive, many of the hosts will welcome you by picking you up from the nearest station (please check this with your host!)
Please be clear that the nohaku experience is not the same as staying at a hotel/inn therefore please bring your own toiletries such as: your pajamas, towels, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo…etc.
Furthermore, please make sure to bring any of your own medication as your host family will not be able to provide that for you.
Although you will be able to use the bath/shower at your host family, guests are asked to be open minded in heading to the neighbourhood onsen/hot spring or public bathhouses. For those with tattoos, not to worry. Click here, to see a list of all of the tattoo friendly onsens in Oita.
Once you arrive at your host family, please make sure you understand their rules as each host family will be different.
You can choose whether you want meals included in your overnight stays. The options are both dinner and breakfast, just breakfast or none.
Raw food is not served by the host families to avoid any food poisoning.
In Japanese culture, drinking is a way in which you unwind to relax and socialize. For this reason, you can BYOB, bring your own beverages and booze (alcohol) to enjoy with your host family. But always double check this with your host family to see if it’s okay.
Communicating with Your Host Family
Once you book your nohaku experience, it’s better to brush up on your basics of learning a few common Japanese phrases. If you are worried you might have trouble communicating, we recommend you using an online translation tool such as Google Translate or a translation app. As always, there’s always the natural way of getting your message across through the use of hand gestures and using a wide range of facial expressions.
Another suggestion is to rent a “poke-talk” or “pocket talk” device at the airport that allows two-way voice translation. However, many host families do have experience hosting foreign guests from overseas. In addition, most host families have their trusty smartphones and tablets on hand just in case.
In case you need to get a hold of a translator, there’s a 24/7 Travel Support Call Center that you can call, available in 15 languages. For more details, click here.
If you are a lover of nature and food, then this experience is for you. Head to the farmlands of Oita to learn what it’s like to grow and harvest the various types of vegetables and fruits. There’s a lot of tender love and care that goes into growing each single crop. From daikon (radish) to satoimo (taro), sweet potato, and negi (Japanese long onion), there’s so much to unearth. Roll up your sleeves and get down and dirty to pick the freshest produce in town.
Cook and Taste the Local Dishes of Oita
Host mom teaching how to make dango jiru
It wouldn’t be complete without tasting the fresh, local produce that you just dug up. Get cleaned up and it’s time to start prepping for dinner where you’ll be able to learn about the local dishes that are unique to the region.
In the picture above, we have Emma and Shiori learning how to make “dango jiru”, a popular local dish in Oita. “Dango” literally means “ball” or “dumpling” and “jiru” means “soup”. Contrary to the name, the dango are stretched out to be made into thick noodles. The noodles are cooked with local ingredients such as Japanese taro, daikon, dried shiitake mushrooms in miso soup. However, each household makes their very own version of dango jiru so you’ll be able to try endless variations of the famous soup.
Dinner is served.
Look how beautiful the chirashi sushi turned out.
Dinner time with the host family. Let’s eat!
Fresh river fish, Ayu cooking in the irori (hearth)
Shiori and Emma enjoying the homemade dishes along with the homemade umeshu (plum wine) made by the host dad
The dining area of the host family. The hearth table’s got the traditional yet modern flair.
Get Crafty—Make Your Very Own Bamboo Chopsticks, Bowls & Cups
Using the materials found closeby, you can also experience making your very own bamboo chopsticks, cups and rice bowls. These can be brought home as mementos from your nohaku experience.
Here you see Emma, learning how to shave down the bamboo till it becomes a chopstick like shape.
Next, chopping the bamboo to make cups and rice bowls.
The last step is to wash and clean the bamboo. A natural way to clean the bamboo is to place it in the water that’s filled with seed heads from the rice which helps remove the dirt off the bamboo.
If you fancy being by the water and love seafood, then the fishing experience is for you. Oita prefecture faces the Seto Inland Sea, specifically the Bungo Channel , which contains an abundant source of seafood. There are many fishing ports that bring in the freshest seafood daily, and you can get a piece of the action too.
The fishing experience offers many different activities that you can try. Not only will you be able to taste the seafood right out of the water, you’ll also learn the techniques how to properly prep lobsters as well as learn how to shell out sea urchins.
If fishing is more of your thing, experience fishing on a raft also known as “ikadadeno umitsuri” or catch seafood by dragging a net out of the water. There’s also shellfish digging you can experience too.
Book Your Nohaku Experience
To book your nohaku experience, simply book through Airbnb. Search using the keywords “Farm Stay in Oita, Japan” to see your list of nohaku experiences available in Oita.
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