Archive for the ‘ Foreign Volunteers Japan ’ Category

Announcing the FVJ Community Forums

 I’d like to take this opportunity to announce the Foreign Volunteers Community Forums. Although created by Max Hodges a little while ago, I have to admit that I’ve been a little slow on the ball to promote and encourage discussion on the Forums. 
Although most of the FVJ discussions have been taking place via Facebook, there is a lot of information that gets regularly buried under newer threads. That is why the FVJ Discussion Forums have been designed from the ground up to provide a much easier system to interact, plan and organize activities.

These forums are designed to be a friendly and valuable place for like-minded people interested in playing a role in Japan’s disaster recovery efforts to share ideas and opportunities and get connected to and inspired by others.

FVJ Community Forums run on a brand new platform with some snazzy features. We think the design and functionality is very contemporary and fresh and, most important, it feels more social than other systems. A few of the many cutting-edge features include:

-Social Engagement – An intuitive “like” system makes users feel appreciated for their contributions, while integration with Facebook and twitter allows easy registration and sharing.

-Recent Activity Stream – Allow you to easily see all the recent happenings on the forum, beyond just the messages posted. You can follow other members to get your own personalized news feed showing the content you want to see.

-Alerts – Make it easy for you to stay up-to-date with relevant updates. You’ll receive alerts when someone quotes your post or responds to a status update, when you receive a new trophy, and more.

-Private Conversations – are like private threads. Nobody can see your private conversation, not even the administrator. Now here is the cool part; you can invite as many people to your conversation as you like, sort of like three way calling. Go here to start a conversation or click on a persons avatar to invite them to converse. Or access conversations from your inbox above. You can also invite in more people from the conversation thread (you will see the Invite More link over on the right hand side of the conversation).

We look forward to your participation in making the FVJ Community Forums the most valuable destination possible for Tohoku relief volunteers.

You can register with your Facebook account:

Back to Rikuzentakata

* Written by Rob Keyworth

Rikuzentakata in mid-May by Foreign Volunteers Japan

Rikuzentakata in mid-May a photo by Foreign Volunteers Japan on Flickr.

Well, it’s been nearly two months since our last trip north and today Andy and I took advantage of the last day of the JR special pass and headed north to Tohoku. It was a long but ultimately rewarding day – up at 4, home at midnight and in the middle we’d managed to drop off 1.5 tons of food to where it was needed. But as ever that doesn’t begin to explain the journey we had.

We’ve been planning this trip for a few weeks but had a number of difficulties in arranging the fresh food that we wanted. Our previous suppliers were unable to provide the size of order that we needed and they introduced us to a wholesalers who were happy to provide what we needed but we were unable to provide the documentation in time. And in the end we spoke to the Amazing Paul Yoo of ‘The Fruit Tree Project’ ( and he introduced us to a supplier in Kesennuma who was only too happy to provide us with 250,000 yen’s worth of fresh produce. So Andy and I set off this morning to Ichinoseki on the brilliant JR pass (10,00

0 yen day trip, ends today – why?) where we picked up the truck and headed to Kesennuma.

Our supplier was simply superb and had our entire order ready to be picked up when we turned up at around 11am and had most of his staff ready to load up the truck for us. A short time later we had 250,000 yen’s worth of carrots, potatoes, onions, daikon, leeks, oranges and apples loaded on the truck and we were nearly ready to go. There was a slight delay as the owner then raced around the store to get some supplies for the drivers. After looking at us he decided we had way too much healthy food in the truck so he came back with a bag full of chocolate, crisps and a couple of bottles of water and we were on our way – what a star!

On the drive in to Kesennuma I again realized what I’ve missed over the past 15 years. The area was, and in many places, stunning. Beautiful mountains, beautiful country scenes. Idyllic.

We drove the few extra kilometres into Kesennuma and Andy wondered if there was a race track nearby as there was a smell that  was very strong smell in the area. It took us a while to realise that that was actually the smell of the town. The smell of rotting houses, rotting fish, rotting everything.

The last time I was in Kesennuma we skirted around the most devastated areas and this time we had to drive right through it. What was surprising was that although the majority of the ships that had been stranded ashore had been moved, the homes and businesses looked very similar to what we had first season at the end of March. It was as though they’d been forgotten.

The major difference between now and then was the temperature. My first visit to Kesennuma and it was trying to snow. Today it was 30 degrees. Which creates a whole new set of problems.

Our initial plan was to drive from Kesennuma to Rikuzentakata and drop off aid at the temporary housing. However, for whatever reason we were unable to find the temporary houses and ended up in Rikuzentakata.

250,000 yen worth of fruit and vegetables bound for Rikuzentakata.

A bit lost, a bit confused, but also genuinely stunned. On my last visit there was 7-8 km of devastation and I genuinely thought that it would take years to clean up. If you haven’t been there, it’s difficult to explain the current situation but there has been massive progress; There are mountains of wood, steel, rubber. A field with hundreds (thousands?) of cars that have been destroyed but all put together. It’s almost unrecognizable from the fields of devastation from two short months ago. It’s still bad. It’s still very, very bad. But on the surface at least, it is improving. We went looking for shelters/temporary housing where we could deliver our supplies. We dropped off at a couple before heading to the main distribution center who gladly took what we had left. It was unfortunate that we were unable to deliver directly to the temporary housing but due to time constraints this was simply impossible. We did manage to deliver 1.5 tons of food for which the people were very grateful.

As ever, there are many people to thank for making this happen.

IFG for donating some of the money raised from the Futsal tournament. And everyone who attended.

The Black Lion and all of it’s customers who supported the Big Iwate Drive and the Books sales.

Paul Yoo for the introduction and his supplier for making it happen.

Thank you for your support. And please keep helping us and everybody else that is trying to help.

>Foreign Volunteers Japan

>Hello everyone,

Thank you very much for your interest in Foreign Volunteers Japan and our project to collect food and essential supplies for distributing to the people of Tohoku who have lost their houses, family members, and even some complete villages due to the devastating tsunami which followed the magnitude 9.0 Tohoku-Sendai earthquake. 

Our mission is to bring as much food and as many supplies as possible to the areas that were severely affected by the Tsunami, but have so far gone neglected by the recovery efforts. Due to the massiveness of the Tsunami’s reach, there are many areas that are facing extreme shortages of daily necessities, this lack of necessary supplies is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

In order to help combat this, the founders and head organizers of this group, from Bluesilver Events, and Ikon Europubs, have so far arranged for two 4 ton trucks to make several trips up North with all of the supplies that they can collect. The initial donation that got this project started was an 8 ton donation of baked beans. Many of the emergency shelters up North are serving soup, but are lacking vegetables and other nutrient-rich ingredients that could add sustenance to the meals. Which is why even several tons of beans are likely to make a difference in this afflicted area.  While that was the initial donation, they are now looking for the following:

if you can, please send donations of food, diapers, fuel, blankets, clothing, children’s toys, sweets, toilet rolls, chopsticks, paper plates, water, towels, futons, tents, cardboard boxes, plastic forks, charcoal, etc…
However long it takes, this team is dedicated to making sure everything reaches the people in need.

Please send or directly drop off donations to

14-5 daikyocho shinjuku 160-0015
Ikon Europubs KK


Please let us know if you have any questions, or would like any further information about the project.

Thank you for reading this, and sincere thanks for your support.


– Foreign Volunteers Japan