Ofunato Summer 2011 Volunteering. Getting started…eventually.

The next day (Sunday)I got up nice and early, got my shit wired and headed to the city volunteer center for my first day’s work…They were on holiday till that Wednesday. OH SHIT! I just spent 13 hours driving across North Eastern Japan to volunteer, only to find that I was going to waste a whole 3 days doing nothing. Needless to say I was displeased.
I decided to hit up the onsen and relax a bit and clear my thoughts. We had bathed there a few times on the previous trip but it was always at night and so I had never seen the surrounding landscape… Up winding road I drove, rounded a bend and it was like DAM!

I had seen signs for it but I didn’t realize it was right there! its amazing what one misses at night in the mountains. It is not a hydro electric dam though, It was built to prevent flood surges when it rains too heavily.
which explains the water level on the one side. Look the other way and you are greeted by a rather spectacular view.
After that little surprise I headed off to the onsen, got a ¥100 discount for being a volunteer and proceeded to get naked with a bunch of old guys. As they tend to do, one of them struck up a conversation with me and thanked me for gong there to help them and whatnot. He then asked me if I was a member of the “All Hands” Volunteer group. I said I wasn’t but the name stuck.
logo-blue_squareBack down the hill I spoke to the guy staying above the school I stayed at who told me more, then got online and found the all hands HQ. Joined up and managed to get working that afternoon. I don’t know how but things always work out well for me.
I joined the team cleaning out the tsunami mud and detritus from the roadside gutters near the base. They had cleaned out a bunch of gutters and needed to re cover them with the big (heavy) concrete covers.
That was basically it for me. lifting covers up, and putting them back in.
In the process I earned the nickname crowbar because of my… skill (or so I will tell you) and I also met some truly awesome people from around both Japan and the world.
That night I got hold of the friend I made on my last trip to Ofunato and we hit up the nearby Izakaya for a good few drinks and a nice long conversation about life, the universe and everything. In all A good first day.

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