Japan Day Sheffield University 29th April 2012

These guys are giving all the profits to itsnotjustmud 🙂

Facebook Event (I am going)

Welcome to Japan Day 2012, hosted at the University of Sheffield.

“Looking towards a Rising Sun”

Japan Day is a showcase of the wonders of Japan. We bring to you our concept of MODERN vs. TRADITIONAL. Set in a traditional fishermans village we bring to you both features of typical Japan and features outside the stereotype. Additionally, take a journey to our modern Japan highstreet setting- complete with karaoke, obake yashiki (haunted house) and a maid/butler café.
If someone says “Japan”, you might think of Samurai, Geisha, innovative technology, wacky fashion trends and pop culture. We aim to create awareness of these features as well as awareness of the ongoing struggle with recovery in Japan after the Tsunami.

Therefore all profits from this event will be going to our chosen charity: ‘It’s Not Just Mud’. More information here:http://itsnotjustmud.com/

Additionally, inkeeping with the Japanese belief that if you make 1000 Origami Cranes, a wish for health or recovery will be granted, we intend to make 1000 origami cranes before and during the event itself as a token of goodwill.

We are pleased to announce that the MAIN STAGE will showcase:
~ Martial Arts performance
~ Taiko Drumming by the brilliant Joji Hirota!
~ Koto Performance
~ A sword demonstration
~ University of Sheffield Soran Bushi group
~ Nihon Buyo, performed by Amie MinYoung Kim.

In addition to the main stage events, our other stalls will include;

-Origami, Go and Shogi, Matsuri,Kimono dressing, and our very own take on a Japanese shrine to name but a few!

-Karaoke booth, Anime and Manga exhibition, Obake Yashiki (Haunted house!), Maid and Butler Cafe (cake and all!) with more to come!

Concessions (under 12’s): FREE

My posts about my time in Ishinomaki:

Introduction and journey

Still need to write about Wednesday! A task for the weekend me thinks!

Lest we forget….My Time in Ishinomaki, Japan Tsunami Zone – Tuesday

Tomorrow marks one year since the 2011 Tohoku Tsunami and Earthquake so I will write about my Tuesday with itsnotjustmud.

I watched Children of the Tsunami recently by the BBC.

I recommend you watch this.

It was strange seeing the shell of Okawa Elementary School on T.V.

We were en-route to Onasaki that morning, however on the way we passed the shrine at Okawa Elementary School. The team had worked on the clearance of the area and stopped to pay their respects.

It was completely destroyed, killing 75 of 108 students and 10 of 13 teachers and staff. The teachers and students were evacuating from the school and were swept away by the tsunami while crossing a nearby river bridge.

You could see the part of the bridge ripped out by the tsunami still in the river.

Standing at the shrine I finally felt what had really happened to the people of Tohoku. Up until then I had not felt sad, or any real emotion as I was there to assist. But seeing the shrine, the parents still digging and coming to see the last place they saw their children alive bought it home.

In Onasaki the team was re-flooring houses, clearing out muddy belongings and re-instating a shrine gate. Onasaki was completely flooded, however the government is not restoring electricity and water to the area as now it is classed as at risk and they want to discourage people from re-building there.

Photos from the day:

Zouri found in the mud.

Floor work in onagawa

Imagine if this was your stuff :(

2.1 Tuesday - Onasaki

2.2 Tuesday - Shrine Gate

2.Onosaki - tuesday

So why not donate to the Tohoku tsunami effort with It’s Not Just Mud who’s continued efforts help the reconstruction of the areas affected by the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami we will all remember tomorrow.

Yes, the place is cleaner now and no longer a ‘disaster’ zone (donating to the red cross is useless BTW) but a blank zone, a space where peoples lives used to be. They want it back and need your help.

Volunteer, Donate, Just Do It.


For donations from UK:

If you are based in the UK and would like to donate to It’s Not Just Mud, the easiest way is via our fiscal sponsor Helping Hands for Japan.

Donations can be made via cheque payable to “Helping Hands for Japan” or bank transfer. Please mention that the donation is for “It’s Not Just Mud – Tohoku Volunteer Program”.
Cheques can be mailed to:
Helping Hands for Japan
Wesley House
7 High Street
Oxford OX5 2DH



Bank Details for UK Donations:
Lloyds Bank
Sort code : 77-23-09
Account name : Helping Hands For Japan
Account number : 81927562

If you are interested in Gift Aid, please visit the donations page of Helping Hands For Japan.

My Time in Ishinomaki-Shi – Monday making furniture and house clearance

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On the Monday we first started off by visiting and delivering materials for a local school.


This nursery school had combined with another that had been destroyed in the tsunami. Quite a few of these children had lost a parent to the disaster, but all were happy and enjoying their morning exercise.

After this we joined forces with the Ishinomaki volunteer center and a few of us did a bit of house salvage.

In the afternoon we joined the rest of the team on the Ishinomaki Laboratory building furniture for people in temporary housing.




We went to Karaoke on that night which was fun after a hard days work 🙂

Two more days to tell you about, I know I am dragging this out but I run out of time quickly in my life!

Keep track of the real situation with the Japan tsunami volunteer effort in Ishinomaki though the INJM website.

My Time in Ishinomaki-Shi – Entering the MAD house

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On the Saturday I arrived too late to go out with the volunteers so I familiarised myself with the Its not just mud ‘bubble wrap chic’ house that I would be staying in for 5 days.

I had my first experience of an onsen (a temporary onsen which equated to a large paddling pool in a shed). It was free, spine tinglingly hot and well you had to get neekid in front of people! (same sex of course)

As it was the weekend there were lots of volunteers and remembering names was difficult, or in most cases just not done! A fantastic spread was put on my the INJM chefs as always. As a general rule a donation of 500y per night is appreciated in the INJM house to pay for food and heating. Also helping with the chores. I find it strange being not of domesticated blood, what to actually volunteer to do round the INJM house. However, washing up after dinner is a good staple, and you will be asked if further help is needed.

Sunday we traveled out to Ayukawa. The March 11 tsunami that slammed into Japan’s northeast coast took most of Ayukawa with it, destroying 80 percent of houses and leaving 400 of its 1,400 residents unaccounted for. Above where we where working on debris clearance there was a combini (like a co-op) with help in English and kanji still on the carpark. You just can’t imagine.

We worked with around 200 volunteers that day 🙂

Looking out towards the sea

This used to be homes.

and of course we all need to eat 🙂

The other team that went out from the house cleaned around a huge effigy of a can of whale meat that was displaced during the tsunami. It is being left in place as a reminder for the people of Ishinomaki.

I will write more soon!

My Time in Ishinomaki-shi – Introduction and the trip down…

When I decided to volunteer in Japan the most often asked question was WHY?!!

‘You’re so far away?’

I know..

‘Japan is the third largest economy, they can afford it’


‘Then why?!!?’

Why do we do anything? I could not put my reasons into words, however many times I was asked. I can even now only describe it as a ‘pull of humanity’

I felt the need to help, so I did.

I saved for 6 months to be able to join the volunteer effort, I thank those who donated to my cause but 90% of the funds came from my own pocket. I knew this would be the case so I planned a rough date in November to fly over.

My friend Sheila was key in my effort, without her I would have been stuck as there are no guides to HOW you volunteer.  She is very active in the relief effort, housing volunteers and volunteering herself with various Christian and smaller volunteer groups.

I came to find that the small groups in Ishinomaki are making a big difference to lives.They don’t get the praise, donations and media hype they deserve. They are the hidden diamonds.

I travelled down with a Christian group called Kurume Bible Fellowship (KBF), a Christian group who have gone to Ishinomaki almost every weekend since the disaster. On this trip they were distributing heaters for the coming winter, and working with Samaritans Purse on construction projects.

We left from Hibarigaoka at 10pm the Friday night and arrived in Ishinomaki for about 7am.

As you approach Ishinomaki you see the gradual increase in devastation, like driving into a apocalypse fantasy game on the PS3.

The whole bus was quiet, a few gasps as we passed piles of rusty cars and steel building supports bent over sideways by the force of the water. We stopped at a shrine to pay respects for a short time and to take in the landscape from outside the bus.

This was my reason.

We then had breakfast and delivered some heaters 🙂

(image owned by KBF Tohoku Relief Team)

The winters in Japan are harsh and Japanese houses do not have central heating. Heaters are essential for living in the region, and with little money and struggling industry local people are faced with choices. Food or buy a heater?

After this I was dropped off at my destination…the It’s Not Just Mud  madhouse.

Part 2 coming soon!

*If you want to volunteer from the UK and need advice just comment below and I will give it gladly.