It was a privilege to have been joined in the bamboo lantern making ritual (if you will), at Hattoji International Villa this winter. From the beginning of the process to the end, it was hands-on, lots of new things learned and many, many laughs! The woods welcomed us as we began the process with harvesting bamboo stalks from its belly. We picked old, dry stalks to cut down. It was beautiful to see their smooth, hollow interiors become visible each time a stalk was successfully detached. We cut each one to a manageable transportable size then loaded them all onto the waiting ute to be moved to an open space behind the Villa where we cleaned, cut and again cleaned them, working beside an open log fire, as it was a pretty cold day! And a wonderfully crisp and clear day too. Coupled with the extensive valley view unrolled before us... priceless. As we worked, joking and laughing, each one of us contributing to a different part of the process, it was rather wonderful to see the lantern coming together; seeing the different height each beam was cut to and assembling in my mind how the finished product would look. We also made sure to drill holes in each bamboo piece after it was cut, for the string lig
hths to be able to be housed in the bamboo hollow. After all was said and done, after we`d gathered bamboo stalks, breaked for a delicious and warming soba & broth lunch, regrouped around the fire to finish prepping the bamboo pieces, we stopped for tea and snacks. The expanse of the serene valley wrapping itself around us in a panoramic embrace. If only we could stay there all afternoon and into the nighttime enveloped in the landscape and still be there when the numerous stars would surely appear... but we had a project to complete! I let my mind wander and linger, drinking in my surroundings, and then joined the others as they loaded the `processed` pieces once again, onto the ute. This time we brought them to be stored beneath the Villa patio where they`ll remain all through winter and spring before being ready to be worked again come summer. It was truly and honor to have participated in this process and project! It was unforgettable and will remain with me as a one of the highlights of my travels in Japan! Thank you Tetsuya-san and Hattoji Villa!

If feel privileged to have been a part of Shiraishi community as a volunteer, even for as short a time as it lasted. Working alongside Tadashi-san and Tetsuya-san (my host in Okayama) to make bamboo lights was a pleasure, they made sure I was welcomed and able to enjoy the island and its history during the couple of days I was there. 
The crafting of bamboo lights was quite rewarding, the natural material and final result made for a nice experience.
Futhermore, the International Villa is a great place to stay, all common areas have a homy feel and a glass wall to enjoy a view on the sea.
All in all, the island is beautiful, and has many a treasure to offer. I had a great time sharing stories with its inhabitants. I enjoyed a lot walking the trails, passing through peaceful bamboo groves, going up small mountains & rocks, leading to nice resting spots and other shrines, looking at the surrounding sea and islands. The streets and houses themselves are quite traditional and pretty.
I was very lucky to experience life on Shiraishi island. If you have the opportunity to visit, don’t think twice ! I look forward to see it during summer time.
Amazing time ! Thanks again every one !

We stayed for one month in Okayama with our host, Mr Katayama.

He introduced us to the voluntary work in International Villa. First we went to Hattoji Villa, it’s a wonderful preserved farmhouse. This experience was too short, only for an afternoon but we went also to Bizen city, to discover the old and traditional pottery art. An amazing day!

Then we stayed two days and one night on Shiraishi Island. It is a beautiful villa with all necessary, and a surprising view! We did a lot of things: hiking on the heights, walking on the beach, and looking the great sunset.

To finish, we helped in the Coinn Office to prepare a meeting. Everything was nice.

 All along our voluntary experience, we met nice Japanese locals and had great time with them!

We will keep an incredible memory about this month in Okayama.


Thank you for everything! 

In April and May I had the amazing experience of volunteering and

working with Katayama-san. 

During my stay in Okayama, I had the amazing experience of going to both Shiraishi Island villa and Hattoji Villa. Both place are extremely amazing and unique, and I am very happy that I had the chance to experience the true countryside of Japan, and Okayama. 

In Shiraishi I enjoyed the hiking trails in the near by mountains and the bamboo grove. I loved the beach, even though the water is pretty cold in early May. In Hattoji i tried the 88 temple pilgrimage and the festival the hold every April (even though I came in second in the soba eating contest).

I helped Katayama-san with translating the entire website into Danish, and some of the newer English articles.  

Over all I had an amazing time, and I am very happy for the experience I had in Okayama!

In February, I have volunteered  in Okayama with my host Mr. Katayama.

During my stay, we went to Shiraishi Island for a one night stand in the International Villa. The villa is very cosy and the japanese bedroom vey enjoyable. The wiew from the villa on the beach and the sea is also very beautiful.
My stay on the island was very nice and I had the opportunity to assist to Setsubun and discover more about the traditions in Japan. I was also met very nice Japanese locals.

I also had the opportunity to go twice to Hattoji International Villa. The first time, we went there with Mr. Katayama for a one night stay. Although the house is very cold in winter, the architecture and the landscapes are so beautiful, that they make you forget about the cold. The second time was only for the day but I had the opportunity  to discover a little bit more about the surrounding area which was very nice.
I also had the opportunity to make bamboo lights. That was very fun and the result is beautiful.

During my stay in Okayama, I also helped with the translation in English and in French of the International Villas website.

In a nutshell, I really enjoyed my stay and my volunteering in Okayama and discovering the villas and their surrounding areas was very rewarding.

In early January, I have been a volunteer staying with my host Mr Katayama in Okayama for nearly a week. I have a wonderful time here and also a special experience.

We have gone to Shiraishi Island for a one night stay in the international villa. The villa is well furnished and with spectacular view. We have also visited the beach and some of the temples on the island. Not only can we see different temples when we hike, we can also see the beautiful scenery. This short stay in Shiraishi Island enables me to know more about the Japanese culture and also meet a lot of nice local people.


We have also spent some time in the COINN office. We help with little work and have cultural exchange with some nice Japanese people. It is a pleasure to meet and talk with them.


All in all, it is a memorable experience to stay here in okayama and fun to be a volunteer.

I am a university student from Hong Kong and have volunteered in Okayama for one week.

During my stay, we went to Shiraishi Island with Mr. Tetsuya. It was a wonderful experience immersing to the beautiful natural environment in Shiraishi Isalnd. We hiked at daytime to help record the japanese temples on the mountain. It was not easy for non-experienced people to hike there was people were very helpful and we had a lot of fun finding those temples like having a treasure hunt. We also went to the weaving workshop in the Island and learnt about the traditional cotton weaving in Shraishi Island, which was interesting and i learnt a lot from it. We stayed at the Shiraishi Intenational Villa for a night with the pleasent environment, the place was nice and we tried some local japanese cooking.

Apart from the visit to Shuraishi Island, we volunteered in the COINN Office. It was not only helping with works in COINN, but also communicating with the staffs and helpers as a part of cultural exchange. We had a good time here. 

Overall, it was an amazing stay in Okayama and I enjoyed a lot. Thank you for all the kindness from Mr. Tetsuya for hosting us, as well as all people we met. 

In mid-December 2015, I joined a voluntary project in Okayama Prefecture and followed my host Mr Katayama to Hattoji village which is set at the foot of Mt. Hattoji. Thanks to this voluntary work, I have my first experience with this beautifully preserved thatch-roof farmhouse which was built more than 120 years ago but with all the modern amenities. The location of Hattoji International Villa was genuinely spectacular which is one of the most prominent landmarks in town; from where I overlooked the rice paddies and forests. I was overwhelmed by the natural scenery here – a hike to the summit of Mt. Hattoji at day and a starry sky at night. Despite my short period of stay (2 days and 1 night), the friendliest people here welcomed me warmly. I have so many first experience here: a dinner around a charcoal fireplace in the living room, rooms without locks but with Japanese sliding screens, cutting bamboo trees from the bamboo forest nearby, a walk on Hattoji Pilgrimage which helped me to understand the Japanese respect to Buddhism, etc. I feel a strong passion and attachment of the Locals to their own land. They are proud of their “furusato” (heritage hometown) and try hard to restore this unspoiled region.         

 Treat yourself, family and friends to an authentic Hattoji experience – a “furusato” which actively preserving old buildings and old forms of agriculture. Hattoji International Villa is certainly worth check out.







I am a master student in environmental science  of Okayama University. I would like to utilize my free time for working as a volunteer in COINN. I come from Hatinh province in the Northern Central of Vietnam. I am interested in Education for Sustainable Development and I wish that someday in the near future, COINN will has its network in Vietnam.





















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