Monday, April 01, 2013

Northen Japan Service Trip

I had the opportunity to join a service trip into Northern Japan. We spent two days working at a community seaweed coop in Ishinomaki, Onagawa. This area was wiped out by the devastating tsunami several years ago. At this stage, they are focused on rebuilding the economic infrastructure.

Much of the labor force has left the area, so they are shorthanded and don't have enough resources to hire many workers from outside. It's peak seaweed season at the moment. By bringing in a free labor force for 2 days, it helps them be that much more profitable for this crop season, allowing them to rebuild faster.

There were four of us from my Yokota Ward, including the bishop. The rest were Japanese volunteers from throughout the Tokyo area. We rode up late Wednesday night, arriving early Thursday morning. We worked all day Thursday and Friday, staying in a hotel one night. Another overnight on the bus returned us home early Saturday morning.

My fellow Yokota Ward Volunteers


Not exactly a modern factory. Processing methods are very hands on and labor intensive. I didn't mean to catch that lady coming out of the john.


They separate the seaweed into different sections for other groups to break down further. This part was left to the professionals.


In the mornings, we were put on "skinning" duty, removing the leaves from the thick stems. 


They take regular coffee breaks at 10 am and 3 pm. Most of the peace signs doubled as cigarette holders. Smoking is rampant among the fishermen. 


We had a nice Japanese meal at the hotel that night.


Our rooms were on the water. (Hooray for no tsunamis while we were there!)


After skinning, we spent the rest of the day in chopping sheds, where we would work on a different part of the seaweed.


Bishop Skabelund


Child labor


Senior labor


Our entire group prior to heading home. You can see the destruction to the only building left standing. It had steal framing. They use the hollowed out bottom floor for storage, and the second floor for office/meeting space.


3 comments:

Jake and Jenny said...

It cracks me up how they pose, or do a sign in the pictures, they did that in Korea too. Interesting process! Glad you got to serve!

Shane Van Cott said...
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Supercords said...

I've never fully understood why they do that, other than it's ingrained into their skulls from the time they are infants. I have been told by Japanese girls that it's nearly impossible for them to smile at the camera without putting their fingers up.