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Comments by Interns

Interns of the past comment on their experience in Itoigawa.

Marvin Schmid (25) from Zurich SWITZERLAND

March 2nd – July 30th 2019

Profession: Graphic Designer 

I lived for 5 months in the Sasakura Onsen, a traditional Japanese hotel, located about 400m above sea level up in the Hayakawa Valley of Itoigawa. The Hayakawa Valley is a GeoSite of the first UNESCO Global GeoPark in Japan and is a hidden gem in the land of the rising sun. Itoigawa is an area full of beautiful places, villages, traditions and offers delicious food and Sake. During my internship I was active as a volunteer at the Onsen hotel, where I helped out at the daily work. The work at the hotel was mainly with the cleaning staff and welcoming guests at a drink and food corner. I could have also chosen to help out at the hotel's kitchen, for example help preparing food or simply washing up the dishes. This does not sound very exciting, but I am glad that the work was not that complicated because of my lacking skills in Japanese. And, the team I worked with was awesome so the kind of work did not matter. I could just do my best at work and focus on trying to handle conversations in Japanese during the breaks. 


I was also engaged in the creative work of KOTOBUKI, where we produced two brochures about the world of premium local Sake. KOTOBUKI is a small but interesting organization that introduces Japanese culture & lifestyle to non-Japanese. 


In my free time, I got a very good sight into the life of the people living in Itoigawa and the style of living in the Japanese countryside. The people here are very kind and interesting. I always had a blast with them. Be prepared to drink lots of alcohol when joining a party. They are not as weak drinkers as one says about Japanese people. I learned that lesson very fast.

Of course I also had many chances to see beautiful places and experience Japanese culture and tradition in and around Itoigawa. Itoigawa has so much to offer and even during my 5 months stay there, I was not able to manage to see all of it. It is a huge region with lots of nature and hidden sights. All of them worth to explore. There is however just one thing that you need to have in order to do so. It is a car with a filled fuel tank or a good friend who take you there. I was blessed by having both of them.


During my 5 months stay in Itoigawa, I gained experiences that will last for a lifetime. I am very happy that I had this opportunity!



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