Helpful Volunteering Links

Helpful Volunteering Links

Courtesy of our FuJET Volunteering Coordinator, here are some helpful links and e-mail links for volunteering:

Eyes for Fukushima:

Eyes for Fukushima LogoEyes for Fukushima (E4F) aims to promote grass roots internationalization in Fukushima Prefecture with devotion to improving the lives of people affected by the March 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster through events and fundraising. Eyes for Fukushima seeks to foster ties between Japanese citizens and JET participants at the person-to-person level.

JCN Japan Cat Network:

japan cat network logoJapan Cat Network is a registered non-profit animal welfare organization helping people help pets through Trap Neuter Return programs, rescue, and re-homing. Volunteers perform regular rescue operations in the evacuated area of Fukushima, and operate two no-kill animal shelters.


Playground of Hope:

playgroundofhope logoThe Playground of Hope is a “social fabric” project that aims to restore playgrounds in disaster-affected Tohoku communities as quickly and efficiently as possible so as to enhance economic recovery by making communities “livable” again for children, their parents and grandparents. 


It’s Not Just Mud (INJM) *(request and contact on webpage):

injm logoIt’s Not Just Mud (INJM) is a non-profit volunteer organization specializing in disaster relief, grass-root support and rehabilitation of disaster affected individuals and small businesses. We are based in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture, Japan and work in the Tohoku region.




Save Minamisoma Project *(limited attendance, contact first):

saveminamisoma logoOur current efforts focus on delivering foods and safe drinking water to residents of the temporary housing units who lost their houses due to the tsunami and forced evacuation due to the radiation from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants. SAVE MINAMISOMA PROJECT has been taking food and safe drinking water directly to the residents of Minamisoma city who are in need of assistance after 3.11 earthquake, the tsunami, and the radiation from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants. 100% of the donation money will be used to purchase supplies.


Minamisoma Odaka Volunteering Center *(Japanese Only):

minamisomaThe Minamisoma Volunteer Center is an NPO commissioned by the Minamisoma Council of Welfare, which aims to provide a network of support for disaster relief and reconstruction. 




Habitat for Humanity Japan:

habitat logoHabitat for Humanity mobilizes local leadership and resources to expand access for all people to decent, affordable shelter. Typically, volunteers and home partners work together through Habitat for Humanity affiliates to build or renovate houses. In this process, Habitat forgoes making a profit on loans through interest, putting value instead on meeting human need. Long-term housing security for a family, typically homeownership, is the expected result. 


List of current Volunteer organizations and movements helping Tohoku:


A Message From Stonewall…

A Message From Stonewall…
Welcome to Northern Japan!

Whether you find yourself somewhere under the rainbow umbrella or you’re an ally, welcome to Northern Japan! You may be a thousand kilometres from Ni-Chome but there’s still plenty to keep you busy up here in Tohoku and Hokkaido.  My name is Nate and I am the Stonewall Japan Block One Leader.

If you would like to receive information about LGBTQ events in Block One and beyond, you can sign up for Stonewall Japan here.

I would also like to take this opportunity to invite you to the 16th Annual Sapporo Rainbow March. This year, it is taking place on Sunday, September 15th. If you would like to get to know some other LGBTQ peeps in Block One, this is a great chance to do so. We will be meeting for breakfast before the march and there will definitely be an enkai after. RSVP on the Facebook event page or send me an email to let me know you’ll be there.

Lastly, I just want to let you know that I am here for you. Being queer can be lonely wherever you live, but even more so in Japan. If you ever need to talk or rant or you just need a hug, send me an email and I would be more than happy to help you out. I also bake pretty good cookies… just saying.

If you prefer to stay anonymous, there are people who can help. The number for the Tokyo English Life Line is 03-5774-0992 and they have people who are trained in LGBTQ issues who are there if you need to talk.

Again, welcome to Japan! Have a great year!


Nate Vandeweerd
 Stonewall Japan Block One Rep, Takikawa, Hokkaido

Mt. Fuji Torture Climb 2013

Mt. Fuji Torture Climb 2013

by Erica Grainger

fuji2013_1“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….”  – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859).  That pretty much sums up our epic adventure climbing Mt. Fuji.   So where and when did this take place, I hear you wondering.   Here are the finer details:

When: Sat/Sun 20th & 21st July
Where:  Mt. Fuji of course!
Who: Too many wonderful people to list!
Why: It seemed like a good idea at the time….but I think some of us are regretting it now.  As Robert James Vidal (Caveman) tells me, “Fuji-san and I aren’t friends anymore.”

10 things I love about Fuji:


1)     “Sunriiise! Sunseeet!” – Erika Ehren

(The absolutely sublime, stunning view from the top! Simply breathtaking….I could go on, but I won’t bore you to tears)

2)     “Most intense physical experience of my life” (but worth every step of it) –Paul Sheen

3)     “Caveman bringing potato salad to eat with Erica’s barbequed body” – Jaime Vogenitz

4)     “Hot charcoal stamps at each station” – Erica Grainger (Although I nearly burnt myself, don’t ask!)

5)     “Glad it didn’t blow it’s load while we were on it” – Paul Sheen

6)     “I’ve gotta pee” – Caveman (the nearest toilets were at the top)

7)     The corn soup at the top was probably the best I’ve ever had” – Natalie Donohue

8)     “Learned to cut the Fuji climb waiting line successfully with the spider monkey technique: go on all fours, be fearless and good luck” – Judy Pan

fuji2013_49)     “We did it, now let’s go home” – Kristyn Atkins (my walking partner, however we stayed on the top for ages, til 5:30am)

10)“The best group of people to climb Fuji with” – Paul Sheen. (I would second that)

10 Things I hate about Fuji

1)     “No man left behind!  Except that one guy we left behind” – Paul Sheen (referring to Caveman’s disappearing act.)

2)     “Getting left for dead by two Eric/kas” – Caveman (it should be noted that Caveman was drooling and delirious when he uttered this)

3)     “Disappointing. I was expecting to kill and eat Erica G at some point and I got to do neither” – Jaime Vogenitz (ah well, there’s always next year….. Jaime’s probably thinking)

4)     “Having human cannibals as so called “friends” (Phillip, Caveman, Jaime)” – Erica Grainger (I suppose this gives new meaning to friends til the end. Although I survived!  I can’t decide if I’m relieved or petrified to have such “friends”. It seems that Fuji-san brings out the cannibal in some people.  Lesson learnt: I will NOT go back to Fuji with Phillip Caveman or Jaime.

fuji2013_25)     “What? There’s still more to go….it seems never-ending!” – Natalie Donohue

6)     “I don’t even care if I don’t make it anymore.  This is where I’m going to die” – Judy Pan

7)     “Stupid blanket shouldn’t tear like that.  Arghhhh!” – Phillip Torricke-Barton
(Phillip at the summit attempting to cover himself while Natalie and Paul try to take a nap)

8)     “The sleepwalking zombie stage for 3.5 hours when you descend Fuji-san and those evil torturous stones and rocks that kept falling into my shoes.  It felt like a descent into madness” – Erica Grainger

9)     “BEES! Aghhhh, the bees, aghhh….” – Caveman (was chased by bees and wasps while walking down the wrong side of Mt. Fuji)

10)“Never again!” – Erika Ehran (the first time she did Mt. Fuji was last year and then Erika climbed it again this year)

Finally, a huge thank you to Erika for being a terrific leader,
– Thank you Judy for your life saving bursts of oxygen,
– Thank you Jaime for not killing & eating me when I was weak and vulnerable
– Thank you Kristyn for being a world-class walking companion
– Thank you Phillip for bringing me stylish gloves
– Thank you Caveman for providing endless entertainment and staying so jolly and brave despite those tough moments and your near death experience!

Thank you to all the people that came on Mt. Fuji that I didn’t mention.  This torturous yet life-changing climb was one of the highlights of my JET experience.  Good luck to all the future climbers, I hope you have as much fun as I did!

World Cafe in Iizaka!

World Cafe in Iizaka!

iizakaOn July 6, I and a mixed bunch of Fuku people went to Iizaka on a World Cafe Tour. The World Cafe is an event that was originally started by Fukushima CIR Kevin Hsieh, and this was the last one he organised before finishing up on JET. The event is all about promoting international exchange, and people of different ages and nationalities, from 6 to 76, from Japan to China to Canada, can join and have a great time.

Iizaka is a town on the outskirts of Fukushima City, and it is famous Japan-wide for its onsen and history. Going there very much resembles going back in time.

We started out by meeting at Fukushima Station then taking the train out to Iizaka. We were greeted by a number of people who had volunteered to be our guides for the day, and they showed us around and explained the significance of the things we saw. We visited a shrine dedicated to battle and an old estate. We exchanged our shoes for geta (Japanese clogs) (this was free – you just left your shows behind then went and got them later) and enjoyed the experience of walking around in them. They were surprisingly comfortable and I decided I wanted a pair.

The day was very warm so we were all relieved to then move to an indoor and air-conditioned venue, where we enjoyed onigiri and gyoza for lunch. After lunch, we made uchiwa fans in groups. This was followed by a Jeopardy-style quiz. The questions related to five of the countries represented by people present at the cafe. This quiz really got going as the groups competed against each other. The quiz was followed by a game of charades, at the end of which my team won, despite efforts to stop us by organisers and the other teams alike!

I knew that this event would be fun, but it really exceeded my expectations. I had a blast! I hope that the new CIR in Fukushima City continues the World Cafe, and if they do, make sure you all sign up and give it a go!

Lemon Tart Recipe


This is a simple and easy crowd pleaser that I thought I’d share with you all! I’ve literally been making this since I was four, so even if you have trouble with toast, you can manage this and wow your friends (as long as you don’t share the recipe!) ~Felicity

3 lemons (or to taste)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 pre-made pie case (or 3 packs of the mini ones) (I get this at Aeon but most larger supermarkets carry them)

1. Juice the lemons and put juice in a largish bowl. Be careful not to get lemon juice in your eye. Also, I think it is better without the seeds in so keep this in mind.
2. Open the can of sweetened condensed milk and empty into the bowl. Opened cans are sharp so take care.
3. Mix well. A spoon is sufficient.
4. Open the packaging of the pie case.
5. Pour the mixture into the pie case. There may be too much to fit in the pie case. Don’t panic. Just eat the leftovers.
6. Refrigerate until it sets.
7. Eat. This is normally accomplished by first cutting it with a knife (careful: sharp!) then passing the pieces to the people eating it on plates.
8. Yum!

Excuse the “Cooking for Dummies”-type method. But otherwise it would be too short! LOL