May 24


I need to write this briefly, because I don’t find myself with a lot of time. There are a number of people here who are awesome and I’m loathe to trade time with them for writing on this blog or any one of the other things that I REALLY need to get done before Saturday.


Today was our day off, but try as I might to be productive, it just wasn’t going to happen. So I will just list some of  the highlights and lowlights of my volunteer experience thus far.



  • Cleaning photos at a local evacuation centre on Sunday * (see caveat on this in the lowlights section)
  • Working in the Greater Kitchen Co-Prosperity Sphere with Adam and Ranko to make dinner for the whole group on Monday night
  • Karaoke on Monday night and racing back to make curfew (the community centre we’re staying in locks the doors at 22:00)
  • Buying a 1000 yen microwave at a recycle shop and stealthily setting it up in our common room.



  • Getting told off by the person in charge of the photo project for not doing the work properly (despite the fact that we had no instructions and that she’d said she’d bring some over in the afternoon and never did)
  • Getting told I could eat any of the food on the food shelf and then being told off later by the project bigwig for eating bread outside of breakfast time
  • Being forced to change my clothes to go to the evac centre to do the bath cleaning/photo cleaning job by my team leader, a middle-aged uptight Japanese lady, because I would scare the residents. When i refused, she sic’d a bigwig on me who used his bullshit conflict-resolution voice on me to tell me that I basically had to do it. (If we had ended up cleaning the baths, my workpants would have been totally inappropriate, as they don’t roll up) All in the name of ‘cultural sensitivity’, which is fine, except that I’ve been volunteering at evacuation centres now since April, and it’s never been a problem before (Tohoku people are really cool).


I’m really enjoying a lot of the people here, and I’m enjoying the work. I think that next time I come up here, though, I will try to come with a smaller group. The realities of a large group seem to mean that those in charge feel like they need to treat us like children. Now that I’ve made some friends, and sort of carved a place, I’m really looking forward to next week.

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