Alternative Paths in Wakayama: Foreigners Making Homes in Rural Japan

Todd Van Horne on his land. This is his forest now, and it needs some management.
Giovanni Dal’s herd of goats is grazing around the vineyard. They help to keep the weeds at bay, and they produce tasty goat milk.

The south of the Kii Peninsula, three hours or more by train from Osaka or Nagoya, is considered remote by Japanese standards.

This region, famous for the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails, is a paradise for holiday-makers but not an easy place to live. Young Japanese people leave in droves for the city searching for attractive jobs, a convenient lifestyle and entertainment. As a result, the elderly, abandoned houses, neglected farmland, and dying communities are left behind.

But some foreigners living in Japan want to make this region home. So they took their chances with a fresh start and took rural revitalization into their own capable hands, quite literally.

Giovanni Dal from Italy: winery guesthouse, goats and cheese, agro-tourism.

Todd Van Horne from the USA: plum orchard, adventure camp ground and community project.

Read my full article on GaijinPot here.

Giving back: Recycling abandoned homes in rural Japan

The abundance of akiya (vacant houses) dotted all over the Japanese countryside has hit the headlines in recent years. While some of these empty houses make it into the municipalities’ Akiya Banks, many are already uninhabitable. Despite Japan’s zero waste policy, the idea of salvaging lumber and other materials from these old houses has not caught on yet but there are some promising examples where individuals took it upon themselves to rescue such materials and re-use them for building interesting new structures.

One such example is found in Wakayama Prefecture at the Organic Hotel Kiri-no-Sato in Kumano. Another example is Horakuan Temple and Zen Buddhist Retreat Center near Suzaka in Nagano Prefecture.

Read my full article on Japan Today here.

In search of forest medicine in Japan

Forest therapy, a guided outdoor practice, can benefit our well-being and give us more grounding. A licensed guide helps those who join a session to rediscover the joy of wandering and wondering in the forest or another natural environment. Beyond relaxation and the connection with nature , there are numerous health benefits that have been researched and documented. I talked to two licensed forest therapy guides in Japan — Makiko Sugishita and Stacy Kurokawa — about their training, current activities and how guided forest therapy sessions can be more beneficial to us than just a walk in the park.

Read the full article published in Japan Today here.

Temple Camp in Kumano – Sauna and Zen at Daitai-ji

How does a hot session in a sauna tent followed by a cold dip in the nearby stream combine with morning prayers at a temple and a meditation session at a Zazen dojo?

If you love nature and the Great Outdoors and you equally love visiting temples and engaging in mindfulness practices, then this is the perfect place for you to spend a weekend. And now you can do so in a camper van or a tent at the temple’s very own campsite!

Read the full article here!

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Temple & Adventure at Daitai-ji

When you think of adventure travel, going to a temple does not spring to mind. However, a stay at Daitai-ji temple in Nachi-Katsuura Town offers outdoor activities in addition to temple experiences. The perfect combination to enjoy both: nature and spirituality.

To read the whole article, please click here!

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