In my last post I mentioned that the camp ground at the volunteer center was closing on the 30th of September.


Well, today’s the 30th. What does that mean for INJM?


Time to pack up and go home? 



Only the thing is, to me, home is no longer Osaka, it is very much Ishinomaki. So I Packed up and went to my new home, which is a house in Watanoha (渡波).


Oh yes. A house. Thanks to some very very very kind awesome lovely people who I love forever and ever, I have a place to stay! Actually, finding somewhere for me to stay was never an issue. I have my foster family (the Ishikawa’s) who would have been willing to take me in, but that wouldn’t have done very much good for INJM as a whole.


I asked around and let everyone know that I needed a place to stay. But it didn’t occur to me to ask on twitter for quite a while. But 10 days ago the feeling of impending homelessness took hold, and I sent out this tweet:

Looking for a space that can be borrowed

for the long term that can house up to 20 voluntee

rs. We can fix

it up! #ishinomaki



Many retweets later, a friend from twitter (@ourwomaninabiko , whom I had met in the flesh for the first time two days prior to this tweet) messaged me telling me that someone had a house.

I didn’t really know what to expect, but I didn’t expect anything as big or in such good condition as this:



Eventually I’ll post some proper photos of the house (when it’s all lovely and shiny), but this house is amazing.


Those who haven’t been to Tohoku might not really understand how good this house is. From this picture, there’s just a few obvious problems. The windows = gone. There are some tiles missing from the roof. That’s it. The house in front of this one is totally trashed. The houses around that one are also trashed, or in some cases, just gone.


I was thinking that the insides would be trashed, with all sorts of stuff inside, but nope. It was clear. One room had already had all the mud removed from under the floors.


The smell? It smelt like a house which hadn’t been lived in for a while, that was it. Not bad for a house where the water had reached over 6ft.


Upstairs? Totally livable, no work needed.


The owners had initially lived there after the tsunami, but have since then bought a new house, and this house was lying unused.


They were very friendly and said that it would be fine for us to use it. The plan is to demolish the house, so they said they had no problem with us doing anything to the house (like replacing the walls/floors). They agreed to let us use it for the time being, but that we would (of course) have to leave at some point so the house could be demolished.




I thanked them profusely, and the next stop was the convinience store. This kind of news deserved celebration. And on a hot day, there’s only one way to celebrate.



I took all the ガリガリ君 from the freezer in the convinience store, and for a moment, felt a bit guilty. There would be plenty of people who would love an ice lolly, but be unable to have one. But then I remembered that underneath the basket with the ice cream there was a second layer of stock. So I took all of those too.


32 in total. Which is amazing, because as soon as I found everyone who had been working that morning, they vanished immediately. I’m not sure if that was because they wanted to celebrate or just wanted something cold, but whatever..


Two days later, the owners dropped by to collect some stuff from upstairs and were surprised to see us already working on the house.

We had already put in insulation under the floorboards in one room and were taking down some walls in the house, as well as tidying up the neighbors yard/driveway.


They were friendly and I chatted with them a bit while everyone around us kept working. They seemed pretty happy.

That evening I got phonecall from Masae. The owner had contacted her and he was really happy. He said that he was really happy to see so many people working around his house, and felt glad that his house could be used to help other people.

Masae said that the owner said we could use the house until December of next year… 

There are no words to describe how grateful I am.

This house will give INJM and other volunteer groups somewhere to stay, enabling us to keep helping other people. I will take good care of the house while it is under my care, and also make sure not to burn down the neighborhood.


Thank you. 



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