Farming life in Kishira

Arriving in the coastal town of Kishira riding downhill, the view is beautiful – a white sand beach tucked between forested cliffs, and small farms and fields dotting the landscape. It’s a bit cut off, with no convenience stores and the local supermarket twenty minutes away by car. My WarmShowers host here runs an organic farm, and often hosts volunteers and couchsurfers. I’m greeted by my host in his truck shortly after arriving and, after a quick hello with the rest of the family, it’s off to a local bathhouse followed by a tempura dinner.

Kishira’s coastline

Working in the fields of Kishira

Since with WarmShowers the accommodation is free, the polite thing is to do something in return and have some cultural exchange – whether that’s washing up after meals, cooking some dishes from home or housesitting. The next morning involved doing some basic farmwork, helping to water and plant seedlings, tie back sprouting plants and set up scarecrows. All the methods used by my host are organic, such as using goat manure for fertilizer or growing certain plants together with crops to ward off pests.

After this, my host offered to drive me to the nearby JAXA space center to see the launch pads, radio telescopes and rockets. The entire area is completely free for visitors to explore. Shortly afterwards, we all packed into the car to nearby Uchinoura to play badminton, go food shopping and stop off at a local dojo to watch a class practicing kenpo. A lot to fit into one day, but a great introduction to local life in the area and very kind on the part of my hosts.

JAXA launch pad
An example rocket
Large dish

Mario, Mr Bean and a nibbled bagel

The next day is forecast for rain, so it’s a much more quiet stay at the family home. I have a chance to catch up on some reading, as well as play some Super Mario Bros on the Wii and learn to play shogi (Japanese chess). I lose the practice round but somehow win the next game (although after a lot of helpful advice and being allowed to reverse one crucial foulup). Lots of fun, I think I’ll try to learn it properly soon. In the evening I make some English dishes, a cottage pie and rice pudding, for my hosts. Considering I couldn’t find some ingredients, such as stock cubes or sage, I think it turned out pretty well.

Learning to play shogi
Some homemade onigiri for the road

We have some fun conversations about Japanese comedians, as well as Monty Python sketches. They’ve never heard of Winston Churchill but Mr Bean is definitely well known. At one point their cats get into my panniers and begin eating a bagel and some dorayaki I had bought. The storm hits in the night, thunder rumbling and fierce rain outside as I crash on my futon.

The next day, it’s time to leave and I’m back on the bike. It was my first WarmShowers experience, and I’m very grateful to my hosts for feeding me and giving me an insight into local living here. Now headed eastwards along flat coastal roads, I hope I can make some real progress in the next week.

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A Japan-enthusiast from the UK, with a particular interest in history and the language, as well as cycling, writing and rock climbing.

1 thought on “Farming life in Kishira

  1. It sounds amazing and very hard work, you’ll be super fit at the end of it. I’m feeling tired just reading the blog. Onward and upward!

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