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.
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.