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!