Published: June 3rd 2012June 3rd 2012
Room 1 Before
Most of the photos posted here were not taken by me.
So, my last update about Japan.
The two major projects that I had a hand in before leaving were finishing off the hanko shop and the second house. They’re pretty similar but I’ll start off with the hanko shop. When I last left off we’d removed all the walls and floors from two rooms and a hallway. Our next job was to put in temporary replacements. First were the floors and the plywood to cover them. Not too much to say about it, just measure and cut and then sigh when you discover the hole wasn’t square and you have to shave off two millimetres from one side. Next were the walls. Now, I’ve never put up drywall back in Canada but I imagine that it’s probably the same.
Step 1) Buy large boards of sheetrock.
Step 2) Measure and then cut them to size.
Step 3) Screw them in.
Onwards to the second house. INJM has two houses in which volunteers sleep. The first house has already been cleaned and re-insulated/had new walls and floors put in by INJM since the tsunami. We started on the second house a few weeks ago. Very similar to the hanko shop.
It was basically destroying all plaster on the walls but keeping the wooden frames. As time went on the floors came out also. The first step after that was spraying all the wood below the ceiling with a bleach solution. Using the pressure washers reminded me of playing with super soakers as a kid. Only now you REALLY didn’t want to get sprayed. After that it was time to insulate! The process was to measure the space you were filling, cut out a piece of stiff blue insulation and then wrestle and pound and by force of mind, will it into fitting. Then, inevitably, when that didn’t work because the spaces were never square you had to shave off little pieces from the side until it did fit. Robin quickly discovered that if you cut a piece 2-3mm shorter than your measurements it was much easier to get in but still remained snug. Work went much faster after that. We finished insulating the floor while Hippy (another volunteer) put down many of the boards on top. That was about the point where I was about to leave but I did see them putting in insulation in the walls and ceilings.
I hope everything goes well with the rest of the reconstruction.
Onto fun things! There was a little time off and a few volunteers got to visit a place called Akakura-onsen. It’s a small town northwest of Ishinomaki. We stayed at a ryokan (an inn) run by Tama-chan and Mari-chan. While there I tried both cold and hot soba noodles and also visited Ginza-onsen and Hijiyori-onsen (famous onsen towns). There was a funny thing I noticed while we were there. At first I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Mounds of unmelted snow. In May. It completely threw me. Especially since it was 20-25 degrees! The trip was a welcome break and I really appreciate the hospitality we were shown.
And now we move to food. First, yakinuku is awesome! It's where you cook bite sized veggies and meat on a gas/electric grill. INJM went to a yakiniku restaurant for my farewell dinner and it was all you can eat/drink for 90 min. It was a really good night and after an hour and a half everyone rolled out completely stuffed. Second, I can safely say that I have never tried as many new things in such a
short period as I have in my two months in Japan. I’ve had multiple kinds of teas and coffees, four or five kinds of mushrooms and lots of seafood (fish (raw and cooked), jellyfish, scallops, octopus, seaweed, shrimp, crab) during my stay, most of which I thought tasted ok and not nearly as bad as I thought it would. With the seafood what I noticed was that none of it had the distinctive odour that is partially the reason I don’t eat any at home (because taste is half smell…or something like that). Maybe it’s because Japan is an island and therefore everything is fresher? Does this mean that I’m now going to eat pizza with mushrooms and anchovies? No Dad, yours is safe. But it does mean that I’ll give things a second chance back home. And then when I don’t like it I’ll just have to declare Japan as the land of awesome food and go back soon.
There are more photos below