killalla: (Sherlock Hound)
[personal profile] killalla
So, last week, I hopped on a plane to Narita. Upon arriving, I got the NEX to Tokyo Station, and then a Shinkansen to Morioka, where I was a bit flummoxed to find that I'd already missed the last bus to Appi Kogen. Fortunately, I was able to get a combination local/JR train to the area, where I was able to call the folks at Pension Mutti (the place where I'm WWOOFing*), who kindly came to get me, there being no taxis in this area.

Since then, it's been a relatively quiet few days up here in snow country, working, bathing, eating and sleeping. The work mostly involves food preparation for alternating breakfast and dinner shifts of between 20-40 guests, as well as a daily session of room cleaning. Quite similar to what I did back in the day at Tassajara, which is party why I chose this particular posting. It's straightforward and relatively strenuous work, which tires me out in a way I'm not used to, and I appreciate that, since my regular job is quite cerebral and sedentary. There's also a certain satisfaction in producing a well made bed or nicely fried fish.

The group here is relatively international, and quite friendly - I share a room with three Taiwanese girls, and the guys next door have included two Australians, one German, and a Japanese intern from Morioka. Most of them are ski or snowboard enthusiasts (Appi Kogen is a major ski resort), and have come to work for a month or more in order to earn a season pass or equipment rental. In fact, the owner was kind enough to give me some local goods today as a thank you present since I hadn't really taken advantage of the ski facilities like everyone else. Myself, I don't have any real desire to try it, although I did go up to the resort on one day to see what it was like and buy souvenirs. My real delight in being here has been to see the beauty of the snow (which is powdery, light, and piles up in drifts higher than my head), and take advantage of the steaming outdoor bath during our break in the afternoon. It's also been the New Year, which meant that we had special Japanese dishes like soba noodles, and ozoni, which I haven't eaten since I was a kid. There were also fireworks (one day late, because of the snowstorm on New Year's Eve), and I happily stood there in the snow in my light shirt, cotton skirt, and flip flops through the lot. (Still working the mutant superpower - impervious to cold.)

I realize that most folks don't see hard physical work (with no pay) as a vacation, but it fits with the zen center, tall ships and National Trust working holiday stuff that I do. It's basically a shift of perspective, tests my adaptability, and keeps some of my more practical skills alive. It's something new, and interesting, and thus avoids boredom. (Which as I get older, I've come to realize is one of my major failings - like Jakita Wagner, I get bored relatively easily, and when I get bored, bad things happen.) And of course, when it's over, I'm looking forward to being the customer rather than serving the customer for a while, and I'll feel I've quite properly earned my luxuries.

I've got though a few novels while here, and since there's internet, I don't lack for content, even when I'm not working. I've also dealt with the jet lag and an annoying head cold I think I picked up on the plane. (At least it meant I had no problems getting up for the breakfast shift!) But it's otherwise fairly quiet here, so I'm looking forward to leaving for the big city tomorrow, as I'm back off down to Tokyo for some shopping (must pick up next season's Hello Kitty handbags...) and then on to Karuizawa and Hakone for my usual round of further hot springs before heading back to England. If you are or know of anyone in the area, please give a shout, and I'd be happy to meet up - my schedule is relatively flexible for the next week.

*World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms - or in this case, small eco-hotels. Let's face it, I'm more of a cooking, cleaning than farming type. Plus, too snowy to do any real farming!

(no subject)

Date: 2011-01-03 12:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Gosh that all sounds good! I'm back in London on sat late, always have space for visitors, would love to see you, and am close to other folks if that's any help. I'm still immobile so won't be up for much (possibly take you out for dinner?) but shout if any appeal.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-01-03 12:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That sounds like a wonderful place and a great thing to do on holiday. I did a National Trust working holiday last summer myself, and loved it. Do you have a link for the place where you're staying/working?

(no subject)

Date: 2011-01-03 08:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sounds like awesome fun! :D

(no subject)

Date: 2011-01-04 12:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wow, I want to be back there already! How long are you there for, a week WWOOFing and a week as a tourist?

Glad its working out so well

Date: 2011-01-12 07:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Look forward to seeing you on your return. Happy 2011.


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