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.