Experience a Japanese Hagi Homestay with G Adventures

Japan is on many Silver Travellers’ Holiday Wish List, a country that offers spectacular scenery, exotic food and fascinating culture. But whilst there are many ways to tour its iconic sights, there is nothing quite like a homestay for getting under the skin of the country and its people.

Learning traditional skills at Hagi Homestay Enter Hagi Homestay Association, a meet-the-people tourism initiative organised through the Planeterra Foundation and now offered to international travellers through Silver Travel partner G Adventures. Shared experiences are always a priority when you travel with G Adventures, who specialise in small group tours, safaris and expeditions to more than 100 countries. And if you’re a solo traveller, you won’t be penalised either – single supplements simply don’t exist.

Hagi is a former castle town in the countryside of Yamaguchi Prefecture near the Sea of Japan coast. Capital of the powerful Mori Clan in the feudal age, Hagi has retained many of its traditional buildings, but the economic picture is bleak, the most famous local industry being the Hagiyaki Pottery. Around 50,000 people live in the town today, around half the population of the 1950s.

So the Hagi Homestay Association fulfils a vital local need. Most young people are moving away from rural areas to the city for work, which leaves an ageing society alone in traditional farming communities – not great for morale amongst the elderly, nor for economic growth.  ‘It is like we are becoming extinct,’ laments one elderly Hagi resident. 

Cookery lesson at Hagi Homestay But now Hagi Homestay is starting to make a difference by broadening the town’s tourism potential. Travellers can stay with 15 local farmers and other senior hosts who have been trained in English language skills, conversation aids for travellers, and everything they need to prepare them for welcoming Western guests. This training is provided by the Planeterra Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation which was established in 2003. As the non-profit partner of G Adventures, they fund and launch social enterprise projects designed for the tourist market.

Planeterra’s projects all fit into well-defined categories: Meals and Food, Tours and Experiences, Handicrafts, Accommodation, and Transportation. And for the Hagi Homestay project, they are working closely with the Hagi Green Hometown Tourism Association. In 2019, G Adventures brought their first travellers here to stay with Japanese farmers, experience the community and culture, and thus support elderly local people.

Hagi Community Homestay Cycling Tour courtesy of G Adventures A two-night Hagi Homestay experience features as part of G Adventures’ 11-day Back Roads of Japan tour from Tokyo to Kyoto. The small group arrives in time for a welcome ceremony from local residents and the chance to get to know their host family over dinner.

Next day, they explore rural Hagi on a guided morning cycle tour that includes examples of samurai architecture along the way. Then there’s free time to wander the quaint narrow streets and perhaps visit some of the beautiful old samurai and merchant residences that are open to the public. Spend late afternoon and dinner with your host family, before moving on after breakfast next morning.

For both guests and hosts, it can be an emotional parting. Guests are fascinated to find out about Japanese cooking and ingredients, customs, culture and lifestyle, whilst the Hagi hosts are equally interested to learn about Western equivalents. Want to master a favourite Japanese dish? Your host might teach you. Fascinated by local handicrafts or agriculture? Now’s your chance to see local people at work.  

Local costumes are very popular at Hagi Homestay The unique insight afforded to homestay travellers is easy to understand, but how do Hagi’s Silver generation benefit? Far more than you might imagine. Quite apart from an increased sense of happiness and purpose, Hagi’s older residents become more active themselves as they interact with their guests. They can see income coming in for the Hagi Ageing Homestay Association and for local businesses. And, a real bonus, by generating new economic opportunities, they now have hope that the next generation will choose to stay in their rural community and buck the current trend.    

‘I believe we can see many different worlds if we observe from perspectives that are a bit different from what we are used to,’ says Hagi Homestay Coordinator Taki Miyazaki. Visit Hagi with G-Adventures and you can judge for yourself.


251 people found this helpful
19471

Share Article:

Gillian Thornton

Travel writer

Leave a comment

*

Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest travel tips on top destinations.

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Most Recent Articles

Geoff Moore joined events across the island to celebrate Liberation Day, one of the most important dates in Guernsey’s calendar…
The Royal Shakespeare Company offers far more than just live theatre as Gillian Thornton found out on a visit to…

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.