A summer in Karuizawa

After doing a working holiday year in New Zealand I wanted to do a working holiday year but this time in Spain, I wanted to go right away but apparently to apply for the visa Spain has one rule which I don’t understand…evidently you have prove that you have lived at least 3 months in Japan to be eligible for a working holiday visa.

That’s why against my desire I had to stay in Japan for 3 months. But 3 months….it’s too long to do nothing at all and yet it’s too short to find a proper job. There are almost no places that will hire someone for just 3 months, at least not in any jobs I wanted to do so looking for a job was such a doozy. I applied and went to many job interviews without any positive outcomes and I was starting to lose hope and that’s when I remembered that a long time ago a good friend of mine had mentioned that she used to work in a place called Karuizawa.

Karuizawa is a mountainous area that stays rather cool even during hot summer days and for tht reason even though it has no beach it’s still considered a summer resort area where Japan’s rich people come to spend their summer vacation. A summer resort job! It would be perfect job for me since my 3 months in Japan would happen to be during the summer.

I contacted my friend right away to ask her the details, the friend that I’m talking about is Japanese but lives in Europe so usually it takes her a long while to reply because of the time difference but that particular day she answered right away. And not only did she answer right away but she also contacted her old boss in Karuizawa right away and set up a phone interview for me. In a matter of a few minutes I was talking to my future boss who hired me on the spot, he didn’t ask me any of the typical interview questions, he didn’t check my massage skills and yet he hired me after a 5 minute phone call. It was kind of unbelievable but it was true, 2 days later I moved to Karuizawa and started my summer resort job as an outcall massage therapist.

I hadn’t planned on moving to Karuizawa, and even when I texted my friend I didn’t really think that it would be possible for me to work there, I kind of just asked on an impulse but things went so smoothly and so quickly that it just kind of felt meant to be. Like my summer 2018 was meant to be spent in Karuizawa.

The day I moved to Karuizawa was a rainy day and cold day, I still didn’t have a car so my boss came to pick me up at the train station and took me to the dorm where I would be living for the summer. My room was nice and big but that first day the room felt too big and lonely, cold and dark. I regretted my decision to come, thinking that I had the option of staying at home with my parents and my dog before going to Spain and yet here I was, deliberately choosing to be living away from the people I love, I felt lonely and sad and the bad weather didn’t help at all, I wanted to cry. But that night my boss’s family invited me for dinner and even though it was a bit awkward to be eating dinner with a family I had just met their kindness made me feel a little bit less lonely.

Like I said before Karuizawa is a summer resort so the busy season is actually from late July to early September. I actually arrived in May, a bit too early so the first month I was there it was actually very slow. I would go to work from morning to night, waiting 12 hours and maybe doing only 2 clients if I got lucky. It was the worst, I regretted having come all the way to Karuizawa thinking I would trade loneliness for money and turns out I wasn’t even getting that much money, in fact, I feared that after paying for the rental car and dorm fees I would barely have anything left! Plus, waiting and waiting for so many hours without doing anything was driving me crazy, all I wanted was to quit and go back home to my parents and to my dog but the only thing that stopped me was fear of disappointing my boss who seemed so happy to have hired me, and even thanked my friend for recommending me, and more than anything I didn’t want to disappoint my friend who had so gracefully recommended me to this job so I decided to stuck to it at least for a little while.

June was still slow but I had made some friends at work and started to enjoy other activities in Karuizawa, I wasn’t just obsessing over work but now I was going out to take baths in the healing waters of the Kusatsu hot springs, I went to enjoy lunches in Karuizawa restaurants, and exchange massage techniques and reiki therapy with friends from the dorm. I also started practicing yoga more seriously, I wrote more on my blog, made travel plans and read books. Instead of seeing the negative only I started to enjoy the pleasures of some free time in between jobs. It was such a flexible job, I didn’t think such a job existed in Japan! Neither the dorm or the massage clinic had wi-fi so whenever I wanted to use the internet I went to the public library or to Delicia supermarket’s café corner where it was nice and cool.

Some days my boss’s wife would take us girl staff to all kinds of excursions, we would take mornings off and go to Kusatsu Hot springs, Manza hot springs, and once we even went on a 5-hour mountain climb to see Mt. Asama. We were not only working but also exploring the best spots around Karuizawa.

My dorm life was also full of excitement, once when I went back to my dorm room there was a huge mouse waiting for me. The panic was total. There was also the time when one of the guys living in the dorm started cooking this foul-smelling food which stank up the whole house like rotten milk and meat. Not to mention the million bugs that lived in the house and especially congregated into the shower room. Yeah, it was an old decrepit house but my summer in that dorm was still kind of fun.

Up until now I had worked in acupuncture and massage clinics but never before had I worked in outcall delivery massages. So it was a new and interested experience for me. I got to go to people’s hotel rooms and homes and I got to see a bit of how the other half lives. I also got to see a lot of Karuizawa’s hotel rooms so now I know which are the best to stay at. If I ever become rich I think I would like to stay in Cypress Hotel, Tokyu Harvest Hotel and Regina Hotel. I guess it’s because its mostly rich people who come to Karuizawa there were a lot of people who had travelled around and offered interesting conversation.

But even the staff was interesting, a lot of the staff was even more travelled than me with most of them working summers in Karuizawa to save money and then go travel somewhere in the colder months, living the hippy life. Man, I love this hippy life.

At first, I wasn’t all that interested in coming to Karuizawa but I am sure glad that I did. By meeting some of the other staff I became more interested in working for myself, in fact maybe in Spain I will work in outcall massage as well, heck maybe I will offer discounts to those who book me through this blog! Lol.


Multilingual acupuncturist travelling the world