Praying with Expectation

One time during a meeting with my church home group, the leader asked us to share some recent prayers that had been answered. I shared about arriving too late to a jam-packed airport and being run through check-in, baggage drop, and customs by an angelic check-in attendant. Without her my friend and I would not…

Tarbouriech Oysters in Japan

Change is on the wind in Kumihama Bay. Oyster harvesting practices there are terribly old fashioned, but Mr. A is already rocking the boat by using a machine to strip oysters off the rope, and using a workaround so he doesn’t have to walk on the precarious platforms with heavy loads. But if the governor of…

Do Your Best

In Japan I heard a phrase that we don’t use in the US. 頑張って (ganbatte) means “Do your best.” It’s a simple phrase of well-wishing, but implies more than just “Good luck.” It suggests that when you do do your best, things will go well for you. It points to our agency in any situation…

Start Now

The best part of HelpX is the people you meet. You can learn so much from their personalities and experiences. Mr. A’s father was excited to meet a volunteer who could understand some of his colloquial Japanese. He would swoop in sometimes while we were eating lunch, or shucking oysters, or gazing at the sunrise,…

Toyofuji Minshuku

Aside from the oyster business, my hosts also run a minshuku, which is like a Japanese Bed and Breakfast. They offer an entire house overlooking Kumihama Bay, featuring Japanese style rooms and sumptuous meals. It was both oyster and crab season while I was there, so they played a major role in the winter mealset….

Can Santa Read Japanese?

One of the best parts of my stay in Kumihama Bay was playing with Mr. A’s daughter. She’s 6 years old and sweet as ever, sharing her sweets and toys. Her English education is well under way thanks to all the foreign volunteers that have visited. As Christmas was nearing, we suggested that she write…

Hotel Haikyo

  Haikyo means “ruin” in Japanese. It’s often used to refer to the exploration of abandoned buildings and ghost towns. There are plenty of haikyo locations all over Japan. My favorite haikyo blogger has been all over Japan, especially the Kansai area (Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Tokushima!!!). He goes out of his way to find really…

Exploring Kumihama Bay

  Kyotango is a little town on the Japan Seaside of Kyoto Prefecture. It’s not a popular tourist destination, but it has plenty to offer. One afternoon G and I set out on bicycles to explore the town. It was easy to make a big loop around Kumihama Bay and arrive back at our host’s…

Oyster Harvest in Kumihama Bay

I arrived in Kyotango City on November 29th, just in time for the oyster harvesting season. All of my previous oyster experience rested in the one oyster I ate in 2013. There would be a lot to learn. Luckily, I had another great host who was patient and ready with English explanations. Mr. A has…

Late Train, Dire Straits

After a happy month at the orchard, it was time to move on and move south. Mr. K dropped me off at the Shiozaki Station early in the morning on November 29th. I had an 11.5 hour journey ahead of me with 10 transfers. Despite the length of the journeys, I really enjoy these travel…

Quality over Quantity: Japanese Fruit Ethics

In Japanese fruit production, quality is all that matters. It doesn’t matter how many fruits you produce, so long as each individual fruit comes out perfectly. This requires a lot of labor and care. Fruit farmers begin in the spring by thinning the buds of the fruit trees to optimize their placement on the branches….

Haunted House

It was a rainy day. Mr. K decided to spare us from applying rat poison to the cherry trees by finding some indoor things to do. He unlocked one of many doors in the complex and slid it aside.  “Will you organize this too?” he asked. “I used to use it for the cats in…