Although travel is about new sights, sensations and experiences, more often than not, the chief pleasure of traveling is the temporary reprieve from the daily grind. Yet much of the travel experience leaves little time for forging deeper connections to people and places, and it can feel as though you’re simply skating across the surface of another somewhere.

Not so at the INOW program.

Based in Kamikatsu, a tiny village in the cedar-forested mountains of Tokushima Prefecture best known for its forward-looking zero-waste policies, the INOW program offers an alternative to sightseeing-centric modes of travel. Over two weeks, participants live in the village as local residents; even the program’s name, pronounced ee-no, is Awa dialect for “let’s go home.” Activities vary by season, ranging from tea harvesting to indigo-dyeing workshops, but always include several shifts volunteering at Gomi Station (Kamikatsu’s local waste-separation center) and zero-waste business Cafe Polestar.