Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Orientation tonight!

This week so far has been really slow. I was going to go to a Peace Boat orientation for more volunteering opportunities in Tokyo but theres been a big Typhoon approaching Japan and its been really difficult to go outside.


It's not as bad today, but its still a bit chilly here. I have an orientation today with Youth For 3.11 x Tokyo Disaster Relief Network about my trip this coming Saturday. Today I will be meeting the 9 other members that I am going to spent the week with. I'm pretty stoked for that. I will be updating photos and videos from the orientation tonight so stay tuned for that!! :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

YF3 x Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office

Today was my very first volunteering experience in Japan! Myself along with 11 other university volunteers signed up with Youth For 3.11 to sort and loaded up eight - ten ton trucks worth of donated goods to be sent off to Tohoku. It was such a great experience getting to know other volunteers who are around the same age as me. Many had family and friends who's homes were washed away by the tsunami or were forced to evacuate because they're homes were within the 20km radius of the fallout zone. It was such a different experience - really hard to describe in words, because up until now this was just something I saw on TV. But hearing stories from volunteers about their experience and their family's experiences just made everything come alive. 

All 12 of us spent the morning wheeling out boxes after boxes from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office storage rooms into trucks.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office

first storage room

trucks are filled to the rim!!


From here the trucks are sent to another storage in the city where all the donations are collected and sent off in bigger trucks

We're all lined up waiting to be loaded up

each box has been sorted and labeled by volunteers and before we load it on the truck each one has to be recorded down   
 Something that I saw right away was the fact that these boxes had many winter items in it (for example stoves, scarves, heating pads etc). I asked why they were out of season and the coordinator told me that these donations were from March right after the earthquake happened. At the time there were more people donating than people sorting and distributing therefore these were the last of what they could not send up a almost 3 months ago. These had been stored away unable to leave the city because of the lack of transportation. It really made me realize how much organization it takes to actually donate items. Many boxes were filled with winter clothes which will probably end up stored away again in another building because no one will want that in the summer. But it's such a waste thinking that if only these things were transported a few months earlier people it would have been so useful. I also noticed that some things that were still not sorted into boxes were lying around in the room still unopened. We found really random things... 


What the....?

Giant kimono?!?!

In the beginning I think that people were just sending whatever they had in their homes including this giant kimono - sleepingbag thing? We found these things stored away in their original boxes untouched from March. But the problem before was that people would literally send anything and everything without labeling or sometimes even washing clothes before they sent it. So then it was pretty much up to us to decide if it was really worth sending or not (the kimono didn't make the cut). Since space is limited on the trucks we want to send the most efficient things to the shelters that wont end up being waste. It was really sad to see somethings that didn't make the cut because I could see that people who sent it were really caring and wanting to help but without proper guidance things were just being thrown away without even leaving the city. Volunteering made me really realize and appreciate all the organization that goes on behind the scenes that make these things happen. 


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

5 hour walk from Yokohama Station to Ishikawa Station

Yesterday was an incredibly productive day. Clint and I decided to walk from Yokohama to Ishikawa Station, taking us over 5 hours in total (non stop walking)!!! I also got my new cell phone which was really exciting :)  these are some of the pictures that I took on the walk!
Landmark tower : tallest building in Japan
New cellphone!! thank goodness for prepay :)

Beautiful traditional wedding kimono

COLLERCOASTER?!

No... Just a contemporary art like gate to a shopping mall

Clint loves his Chinatown hat



Yesterday's report was on the radiation scare that is still hovering over Japan. I feel that many are unsure and and doubt the government's legitimacy regarding the radiation levels. They have just released new photos of the meltdown that occurred a mere 4 hours after the quake. So what's taken them so long to announce this? How have they only JUST announced that there was a meltdown in the first place? However, that being said, the radiation readings in Tokyo are apparently at normal and some places like New York read even higher than Tokyo (see link for details) http://www.jnto.go.jp/eq/eng/04_recovery.htm#city

 
     

During my 5 hour walk I only saw a handful of foreigners! It was so strange to see the tourist areas deserted by foreigners.

I met a shop owner Shofuku Ueda (Sho) who is also a volunteer organizer for this group (see below) his group is hosting a FREE volunteer seminar on JUNE 19th!!! CHECK IT OUT! for more information please contact: Shofuku Ueda at 080-1268-2812 or email him at kaminarishock@gmail.com
Add caption



He was a really nice guy who agreed to talk to us about his experience volunteering in Tohoku a month after the earthquake and how he feels about the radiation in Tokyo. This is the interview:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Planning for the rest of the summer


Oh I've missed Japanese food so much! I found that many stores and grocery stores are promoting produce from Fukushima and it's safety. Many farmers are struggling now as people are afraid of the food from the area even thought the radiation count has proved to be under the dangerous levels. The same goes with fish and other products from the area. This problem known as "Fuhyou-higai" (people not willing to purchase products out of fear) is posing to be a very large issue in Japan right now.

Went to the local store to buy masks and rubber boots to prepare for the volunteer trip up to Tohoku on June 4th.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Irony of saving energy

Signs promoting energy saving is everywhere!

Escalators are even shut down to save power



Almost every store I went today had some sort of cooling product intended to reduce the use of AC this summer

in this picture you can see the monitor showing you how to use the product!


These little neck towels are all the rage





I donated some money today and got a nice little key chain!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Student continues Japan relief effort (24 Hours Vancouver, 19 May 2011, Page 3)




Student continues Japan relief effort
STEPHANIE IP
24 Hours Vancouver
19 May 2011

It’s been more than two months since a magnitude 9.0 earthquake devastated Japan and while many relief workers have already left, June Fukumura, 19, is in it for the long haul. “Short term ( help) is great but in order to connect with the people...read more...

Arrival!

Finally arrived in Japan!!
Slight flight delay but no big deal! I made a really nice friend Alejandro from the Philippines who was traveling from Saskatchewan back to his home town for his brother's wedding. We had great conversations about farming and traveling and other really random stuff! We ended up talking for 2 or 3 hours total which made the time go right by! Thanks Alejandro!


This is me and Alejandro on the plane


We must have been so loud talking so much!! I hope we didn't disturb anyone!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

D75

@ Gate 75 (YVR)!! Already made a nice Japanese friend sitting with me waiting for this delayed plane. Air ports are always so bittersweet. My dad and I had our last lunch at Tim Horton's a couple of hours ago... I don't know which I will miss more... Tim Horton's or my dad...? ahah Jokes!! Of course I will miss my dad!

Dad, I hope you have an awesome summer! Make sure you eat healthy! I will talk to you when I get there! Make sure you hold the fort down in Vancouver until I come home!!!


pssst... you might be able to find me in tomorrow's issue of 24 Hour!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

1 day until departure!

I'm sitting here with my giant backpack stuffed full of my next two and a half months. It's a pretty surreal feeling to be departing tomorrow. This trip started off as just a goal or almost like a dream and now its become something real! Life is really what you make it!! I just can't believe how everything just worked out perfectly and it seems like it keeps getting better! I've been talking to many friends in Japan and they are all so excited about my trip! So many people keep offering me places to stay and any other help that I might need. This is such a great feeling! I'm sad that I will be missing my friends and my dad in Vancouver but I know that this will be such an amazing trip. I think this really will change me forever! I'm looking forward to updating videos to show you what I'm up to!


Friday, May 13, 2011

Media Update

Today was the release of two newspaper articles that have been in the works for the last few weeks. One was for SFU News (today in print) and Vancouver Shinpo. A big thanks to Stuart Colcleugh and Marianne Meadahl from SFU and Louise Akuzawa from Vancouver Shinpo who wrote the articles!! My aim for these two articles are to create more awareness for the ongoing problems in Japan after the 9.0 earthquake and to show appreciation for those who have made this trip possible for me. I am so thrilled to go to Japan and can't wait to get started. My general plan as of now is as follows:

May 19 Arrive in Tokyo
May 19 - June 4 visit family and friends, go to the volunteer seminars, buy supplies, prepare for volunteering
June 4 - June 12 Volunteer for the Tokyo Disaster Centre via Youth For 3.11 in Tohoku

The Tokyo Disaster Centre is the biggest organization that Youth For 3.11 is currently working with. I am part of 10 people who are heading up for a week to help on the ground there. I am not 100% sure of the tasks but the coordinator told me that there will be things like cleaning up homes, looking for pictures/albums from people's homes and talking to the people who are still living in shelters. I am so nervous and excited about going right now, I can't believe that it's all happening so soon!! In the meanwhile I will be busy preparing for flight on Wednesday!


 Today's article in Vancouver Shimpo

Today's article in SFU News

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