Homestay programmes are a wonderful way of getting to know Japan – contact any of the local tourism associations and international exchange foundations listed in this book to see if any programmes are operating in the area you plan to visit.

It’s also possible to arrange to stay at one of nearly 400 so organic farms and other rural properties around Japan through WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms; wwww.wwoof.org). Bed and board is provided for free in return for work on the farm; see Living in Japan, for more details. This is a great way to really experience how country folk live away from the big cities and the beaten tourist path. To get a list of host farms you have to take out an annual membership, though a few examples are posted on the Japanese site (wwww.wwoofjapan.com).

Essentials

Everything you need to know before you set off.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

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