Ofunato Volunteering - September 2011

allhandsWe had a Friday public holiday last week in Japan which afforded me the chance to go back to Ofunato for a lightning volunteer trip with All Hands. I put the word out as I did before, but this time the call was answered by a fellow ALT in my city. We finished our work on Thursday, packed the loaner car I am currently driving (this is why) and headed north.

_1200461We arrived at the Sakari Base at around midnight which was a good two hours faster than I had expected.  Because we could split the driving, we arrived in a decent state and come the following morning we were ready for a good hard day in the ditches.
Cleaning out the drainage canals on the sides of the roads throughout the city is an on-going job. While the location may have changed, the work was the same. My good friend the crowbar and I were re acquainted and we proceeded to talk to the concrete gutter covers in the only language they understand. The blocks were heavier this time however so I did need some help. We worked hard though and did a rather large stretch of the road. We could have done more if we didn’t have to break for a small lightning producing cloudburst.
The next day saw me at the apartment block that I helped remove the bathrooms from in summer. This time a pair of us assisted in construction rather than destruction for a change. We put insulation into the roof and laid soundproofing sheets over it so that the carpenters who were rebuilding the house could attach a drywall ceiling. Like the last time, the food was welcome and delicious. But even better was the sense of really making a difference. Having worked on that site in summer, returning to it and seeing the progress, and then helping to actually build something was a great feeling.
That night I visited my friend in Ofunato and met his 3 adorable children before he and I returned to the Izakaya we went to before and drank and talked and drank and talked. I also et a few new young citizens of the city who are into the same music as I am and hopefully I will get to spend more time with them the next time I go up.
For the last half a day I was again helping with construction on another site. The project was to build a wind screen to assist a local motorbike repair shop owner to be able to work on salvaging and repairing what is left of his sock after the tsunami did a number on his shop. The screen itself was ingeniously designed by the former All Hands construction specialist and I came in at the tail end just slicing planks at 45 degrees into small pieces to be used in the final stage of the construction. It was not particularly hard but it did take some effort getting the measurements down with the warped damp wood. I daresay, I did enjoy using the table saw.
At mid day we packed the car and began the trip back to Gunma. We were joined by another volunteer who needed to catch a Shinkasen in Ichinoseki city so it made for a fun trip. We stopped for a curry at the shop I discovered in summer and hit up a sento overlooking Ofunato bay first. The it was another Enka fuelled drive through the rolling hills away from the coast toward the Expressway home.
The return trip was a bit longer as we had the long weekend return traffic to deal with but in the end we had a fulfilling and productive weekend. I personally wish I could have spent lore time there. and I desperately want to go back on the next long week end but finances won’t permit it it seems so I don't think I will be back there till sometime next year.

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