INJM’s History

Its Not Just Mud was formed in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11th, 2011. As the requirements in the Tohoku region change, so do the roles and structure of INJM. Here is a brief outline of how we started and have evolved since the beginning.


Rebuilding Communities : 2012 – present

As the community rebuilds, INJM’s focus has expanded from mud and debris removal to community projects and support of local industries. 2012 saw INJM receive a major grant from Give to Asia to fund its flagship project ‘Tsuna Cafe’. This grant will see the project into 2013 and solidifies INJM’s focus on community based projects. Tsuna Café focusses on supporting communities displaced by the tsunami, that now reside in temporary housing. INJM also received a grant in 2012 from Mitsubishi to assist with projects supporting fishing activities. Many communities supplement their fishing industry with the aquaculture of oysters and other shellfish, which requires a large investment of manual labour. INJM has been supporting these communities in their efforts to reseed the shellfish stocks.

From left to right: Fixing the tsunami damage to HQ. Preparing the INJM parking space. The two houses donated to INJM. Hosting a large student group from Sofia University.

Post-Tsunami Disaster Relief : 2011

INJM started as an informal collection of volunteers working from the Senshu university emergency campgrounds in Ishinomaki. One of the first volunteers, Jamie El-Banna, came to Tohoku on a week-long volunteer trip to Higashi Matsushima (Miyagi Prefecture) in May 2011, and quickly decided to volunteer long-term. By the end of September a core group of volunteers had formed as the INJM Board of Directors, including local liaison Masae Ishikawa, and this team decided to register formally as an NPO. INJM moved into a new HQ, a tsunami damaged house donated by locals wanting to help the volunteer movement. Post-tsunami until mid-2012, INJM’s work mostly focussed on mud and debris removal, and the deconstruction of damaged housing and buildings. INJM was able to co-ordinate thousands of volunteer hours towards this effort.

From left to right: INJM campsite after a particularly strong typhoon. Giving the morning briefing to a volunteer group from the University of Tokyo. Enjoying some relax time after a hard day's work.

INJM is a young organization and our scope is expanding very fast as people get to know and appreciate our work. This history page will undoubtedly need updating as we take on major projects and cross important milestones. But our hope is that by remembering our modest beginning from one tent in a field, we will also remember our commitment to helping people at the grass-roots, first and foremost.

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