One Life Japan Farm &Volunteer Projects


What better way is there to get to know Japan and learn about rural life here than through community service? We try to incorporate something into every trip that gives back to the community our customers enjoy, but for those who are looking for more, we arrange Miltie-day volunteer projects when the opportunities arise. Being based in a small farming community which, like most villages in Japan, is suffering from a "youth drain", there is plenty of work to be done- the trick is getting the independent minded farmers to accept help.

Volunteer programs are scheduled according to need, and include some of the opportunities listed below. If you have a specific time you would like to participate, we can also look for opportunities to fit your schedule, just let us know when.

  • Helping elderly farmers harvest wild vegetables from the mountains in spring
  • Farm help (harvesting, planting, tilling, preparing for market)
  • Shoveling snow from roofs in the winter
  • Renovating a traditional thatch-roof house
  • Visiting elderly members of the community in their homes or the local care-center
  • Cultural exchange at the local schools
  • Mapping local flora and fauna
  • Clearing underbrush to maintain the nearby mountain forests

Who Can Volunteer?


We welcome anyone who is willing to help, from school groups, co-workers, friends, and individuals. Usually our volunteers are visitors to Japan who have already done "the tourist" thing, or students and business people who live in Japan and are looking for an opportunity to get involved and to see more than the subway, their office, classroom, or dormitory.

While some Japanese speaking ability is helpful, it is usually not necessary. If you are interested in volunteering, but are not confident in your own Japanese communication skills, let us know and we will find something that fits. Of course, a volunteer program is also an excellent opportunity to practice your Japanese that is often hard to find in every-day life in the city.

Volunteers should be prepared to get dirty. We offer these programs at-cost, so don't expect to be pampered... too much.

How Much Does it Cost?

Costs vary depending on the program and number of people, ranging from free plus room and board, to a minimal fee to cover expenses. Prices are listed on the pre-planned volunteer program descriptions. We will send you quotes for custom programs.

We are in the process of obtaining grants to help subsidize transportation and boarding costs for school groups that would like to incorporate this into part of their program, or just take a weekend field-trip. Please contact us for further details if this applies to your group.

How Hard is the Work?

volunteersAgain, this depends on the program. In most cases, there are several jobs that need to be done, and we can allocate work according to ability and interest. While we do not expect all participants to be experts, we do expect people to take their work seriously. Some jobs, such as visiting with elderly citizens, or cultural exchange with school children do not work up a sweat. Outdoor/farming work, on the other hand, usually means you will get dirty, and in some cases may require some heavy lifting but there is always a hot-spring nearby to clean up before dinner.

How Can I be Notified of Future Volunteer Opportunities?

If you would like to receive email notification of upcoming volunteer opportunities, just let us know and we will add you to our mailing list. Remember, though, that we can usually find work for you to do on your schedule.

Can you help our organization gather volunteers?

While most of our activities are based in the Northern Nagano area, we love to take every opportunity to visit other locations, and share more of Japan with our customers. If you are in charge of (or even just know of) a community service program that is in need of more volunteers, please let us know. We are happy to help promote other opportunities on our web-site, and provide logistics support where needed!

OLJ Programs & Tours

OLJ Tour Basics

We believe in A Better Way

One Life Japan's goal is to promote the recognition and exploration of possibility - the possibility within ourselves and within society to create a better life.

Possibility is born with an awareness and understanding of the whole process of life - its vast expanse with all its subtleties, with its extraordinary beauty, its sorrows, its joys, and its challenges. This understanding is the first step to cultivating the capacity to think freely without culturally learned fears and formulas, to begin to answer for oneself what is real, and what is true.

We make use of the uniqueness, contrasts, and beauty of Japan's culture, nature, and history to introduce a holistic view, promoting an awareness of complexity, ecology, culture, and self.