We’ve had a busy couple of days since our last update!
On Friday, we packed our gear and stopped to interview Stu Levy as we made our way out of Tokyo. Stu was living in Japan in March 2011 when The Great East Japan Earthquake struck. As images of what had happened came across the TV screen, Stu said he made up his mind that he had to do something. He had previously visited the Tohoku region as a tourist and when he arrived he couldn’t believe what he saw. As he continued to volunteer he knew he needed to capture the story on film and thus, Pray for Japan was born. Learn more about it here. Stu continues to visit Tohoku on a regular basis and encourages everyone to visit to help support the region and its recovery efforts.
After we interviewed Stu we hopped on a train north to Rifu, which will be our home base for the remainder of our time here in Japan. We dropped off our bags and took a bus to Ishinomaki where we would spend the night and volunteer with It’s Not Just Mud.
It’s Not Just Mud was founded by Jamie El-Bana. Before the earthquake, Jamie was working as an English teacher in Osaka. After traveling to Tohoku for a volunteer trip in May, and feeling like he could do more to help the region, Jamie left his job and moved to Ishinomaki to volunteer full time. Through the use of social media and his website, Jamie was able to inform others of the situation in Tohoku, and encouraged them to come and volunteer, this being the beginning of what would become It’s Not Just Mud.
We woke up early on Saturday morning and headed with some of the It’s Not Just Mud crew to help fishermen on the Oshika peninsula with their seaweed harvest. On the ride from Ishinomaki to Oshika, it was encouraging to see how recovery efforts in the area are progressing but also a reminder of how much work there is to be done.
Most of our day was spent sitting on crates shucking seaweed with small knives – it’s a task that is vital to harvesting seaweed that cannot be done by a machine. It was a great experience to be working side-by-side with local farmers and to see how things are progressing in the area.
After a full day helping with the harvest, we headed back to Sendai where we met up with a group of JETs living in Miyagi and Wesley’s grand-successor, Troy. It was a great opportunity to connect with other JETs, and of course no JET gathering would be complete without some fun times at the karaoke bar.
Today we traveled the to Tochigi Prefecture to meet with Jon and KK, the current directors of volunteerAKITA. Watch the video below to hear from them and visit their website to learn how you can be involved with their Carnival in Rikuzentakta.
It’s been a busy few days and we’ve still got a week to go! Thank you all for your continued support of this project, and for helping us tell the story of Tohoku Tomo. Please spread the word about our Kickstarter campaign.