Hands On Tokyo

Hands On Tokyo addresses the critical needs of the community by partnering with other organizations focusing on environmental, educational, and social issues in Tokyo. Through such partnerships, we provide numerous opportunities for any individual or corporation looking to engage in direct volunteer service and community participation. Our vision is to empower volunteers so that they can be confident that their contribution can change lives of others.
Jun 4, 2015

Update from Tohoku:"Please Don't Forget"

Tohoku Project
Tohoku Project

Dear Supporters,

  Every time we bring volunteers to Tohoku, the local residents always say “please come back” and “please don’t forget”.  Thank you very much for your continued generous support which makes it possible for us to continue bringing volunteers to Tohoku and, in doing so, to continue reassuring the local residents who are still trying to rebuild their lives that they have not been forgotten.

 

  In March volunteers from BNP Paribas helped plant baby rose bushes at a children’s home in Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture for children who are unable to live with their families. This project teaches the children the joy of gardening and encourages Okada-san who used to have a large rose garden in Fukushima before the nuclear accident forced him to evacuate four years ago. Okada-san relocated to Tsukuba after the Triple Disaster and greatly missed his hometown and beloved rose garden. After hearing his story, we suggested to Okada-san that he work with Hands On Tokyo volunteers and children living at this home to plant a new rose garden for future generations to enjoy. The volunteers, the children and Okada-san worked side-by-side to plant the baby rose bushes. It was very special seeing so many generations working together and inspiring one another. We hope that, by participating in this project, the children will want to participate in other volunteer activities throughout their lives.

 

   Labor shortages continue to make it very hard for local farmers in Tohoku to further rebuild their lives, run their farms and grow their businesses. They cannot do all the labor-intensive work by themselves. They need the continued support of volunteers. With your generous contributions, Hands On Tokyo volunteers have been able to continue to support local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center in Yamamoto-cho in Miyagi Prefecture -- which is an agricultural association of local farmers who produce and promote local rice, strawberries and apples. Prior to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the Yamamoto-cho area was famous for its delicious strawberries. During our recent volunteer trips to Yamamoto-cho, it has been very encouraging to see a large number of new hot houses where local farmers are once again growing strawberries. Hands On Tokyo volunteers were very lucky to taste some of these very sweet strawberries.  We encourage you to buy strawberries from this region when you see them at your local supermarket.

 

  On March 18th, Hands On Tokyo volunteers helped the New Rice Center by gathering and bagging dried rice plant stalks which were scattered across a large rice paddy when a typhoon passed over the area,  making it impossible for local farmers to use that rice paddy. The New Rice Center will now be able to use that rice paddy to grow rice this season. On  April 12th, Hands On Tokyo volunteers, including teenagers who live in a children’s home in the Great Tokyo Area, helped the New Rice Center by spreading the dried rice plant stalks over a large field to help fertilize the ground for this year’s vegetable crops. The volunteers also helped Saito-san and his wife by clearing other fields in preparation for this year’s growing season.  

 

  It is hard to imagine how long it would take local farmers to prepare for this year’s growing season without the support of volunteers. We will continue to organize volunteer trips to further support Saito-san and his wife, the New Rice Center and others in Tohoku as they work hard to further rebuild their lives.   

  In March, Hands On Tokyo volunteers also repainted the stairs and outside deck of the O-Link House in Ogatsu-cho (which is part of Ishinomaki City). The O-Link House is the community house which was built in Ogatsu-cho with the help of the Major League Baseball Players Association, the US-Japan Council and your generous donations. The O-Link House now plays an important role in keeping the local community connected while those from the Ogatsu area are still waiting to rebuild their homes in Ogatsu-cho. We will continue to organize volunteer trips to Ogatsu-cho to help further maintain this community house.

 

  In April volunteers from Moody’s Japan participated in a “Baking for Tohoku” Project that Hands on Tokyo organized and they baked lots of heart-shaped sugar cookies for Hands on Tokyo to bring to a temporary housing site in Yamamoto-cho so that Hands on Tokyo volunteers could decorate the cookies with the temporary housing residents. They also did a beautiful job decorating some of the cookies and making goodie bags for Hands on Tokyo volunteers to distribute to the temporary housing residents. Later in April, Hands on Tokyo volunteers held a café at a temporary housing site in Yamamoto-cho and made yakisoba (a popular nostalgic comfort food in Japan) and French toast, grilled sausages and served hot drinks and sweets. After lunch, Hands on Tokyo volunteers decorated the sugar cookies with colorful icing and sprinkles with the temporary housing residents. One of the residents impressed the volunteers by skillfully painting Mt. Fuji on one of his sugar cookies. It was wonderful seeing multiple generations enjoying time together decorating the cookies and creating new memories. Thank you for helping us bring smiles to the faces of so many temporary housing residents. So long as people are still living in temporary housing, we will continue to hold cafes and other events at temporary housing sites in Tohoku.  

 

None of this would be possible without your generous support. 

 

  In April, Hands on Tokyo also held a spring concert in Tokyo which raised JPY 600,000 for our Tohoku Projects. Over 200 people attended the concert and enjoyed dynamic performances by the Miyabi Arashi Taiko Group, Sawaka Katalyna and her piano accompanist, Maki Furugaki, and the award winning St. Mary’s International School Varsity Ensemble. The Master of Ceremonies was StuartO who regularly appears on a variety of Japanese TV programs and is a bilingual voice over artist. Members of the Hands on Tokyo Teen Advisory Board also held a bake sale at the concert, all of the proceeds of which were contributed to help fund future Tohoku Projects. It was wonderful seeing so many people from the local Tokyo community coming together in support of Tohoku and recognizing that there is still so much to be done in Tohoku.

 

  Thank you in advance for your continued support and for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku. We are actively looking for more ways for those living in the Greater Tokyo Area to participate in our Tohoku projects and for new ways for Hands On Tokyo volunteers to provide support to local Tohoku families and businesses.

Tohoku Project 2
Tohoku Project 2
May 21, 2015

May Report

Painting Project
Painting Project

Teen Report

 

Dear HOT supporters,

  Thank you so much for your support of our teen advisory board. We raised $2,600 on Globalgiving so far and we have $7,400 remaining to reach our minimum fundraising goal. We could use your help and support in getting the word out to others about the campaign underway to meet our goal!

  You may not be familiar with our teen advisory board, so I would like to explain about the group and the impact it is making every day. In 2010, The American School In Japan -Japan alumnus Jonathan Higa and Alex Heideman decided to get more involved in Hands On Tokyo by offering more youth-centered community service activities. Through volunteer activities, the students involved saw the need to establish the teen advisory board to spread the idea of volunteerism to teens in the international school community as well as sparking interest amongst their Japanese peers. By 2014, there were 19 members on the teen advisory board from six different schools. Their activities consisted of; environmental clean up efforts, technology projects with children in institutionalized homes, charity concerts, blind soccer- engaging participants with a lack a vision, Tohoku –disaster relief assistance, beach clean ups, gardening and painting at an institutionalized children’s home.

  April was a busy month for the teen advisory board. Hands On Tokyo hosted a "Spring Charity Concert" at the Tokyo American Club on Saturday, April 4th, 2015 along with the teen advisory board. All of the proceeds from this concert were used for our Tohoku Recovery Assistance and Projects. This event was a success! There were many teen volunteers who performed and assisted the day of the concert. On April 25th and 26th the teen advisory board facilitated a painting project. In the following pages you will find additional information about some of the events as well as some pictures of the teens in action.

Here’s a recap from the teen advisory board members:

“The painting project was a really inspiring and exciting event for us, it was a tangible manifestation of our efforts and goals over the past year. It was great to finally see our fundraising at work firsthand, and to be able to physically  participate in giving back to the community. What made this  event so successful, in my opinion, was the fact that the activity itself was so fun. Volunteering isn't necessarily gritty strenuous work in fact, what added to my personal sense of accomplishment was that we could come together and give to the community as a team. Making valuable connections and bonds as we do so. This feeling of collaboration and contribution combined with a positive side of spectacular, sunny weather made the day memorable and fun for all the participants: they were unanimous in regarding the day as a great success. ”

"It was especially cool for me because I never paint houses...not that I paint anything to begin with. It was a new experience for me and that made it even more fun. Collaboration and teamwork was something that was  emphasized throughout the entire day," said Kenji Makiguchi, a volunteering senior from St. Mary's International School.

 The current fundraising campaign will provide valuable support for our teens to continue to make an impact in the community both through their individual outreach and by being an example of engaged volunteerism to their peers in Japan. Please help us today by making a donation or by sharing the great work of these students with members of your network.

 A reminder that if you don't already, please follow and share what we are up to! We look forward to sharing more stories with you!

Painting Project
Painting Project
Spring Concert
Spring Concert
Painting Project
Painting Project
Painting Project
Painting Project

Attachments:
Mar 6, 2015

Disaster Recovery Project 4th Anniversary

  Please join us on March 11th as we pause to reflect on the fourth anniversary of the Tohoku Triple Disaster, to pay our respects to all those who sadly perished and to think of all those who are still living in temporary housing and trying with great resilience to further rebuild their lives.  So long as people are still living in temporary housing, we will continue to hold cafes and other events at temporary housing sites in Tohoku.  And we will travel to Ogatsu to help maintain the community house which was built with the help of the Major League Baseball Players Association, the US-Japan Council and your generous donations.  We also are looking for more ways for those living in the Greater Tokyo Area to participate in our Tohoku projects and for new ways for HOT volunteers to provide support to local Tohoku businesses and families during this continued post-disaster recovery period.

  Thank you very much for your continued generous support which enabled us to bring the spirit of Christmas and Valentine’s Day to temporary housing residents in the Yamamoto-cho area of Miyagi Prefecture. In December, HOT volunteers collaborated with a Tokyo-based boy scout troop from The American School in Japan in bringing Christmas presents to children living at a temporary housing site and holding a Christmas-themed café at another temporary housing site. 

  The presents were festively decorated by students from a Tokyo-based girls’ primary and secondary school, Seisen International School.  This is a great example of how students in the Tokyo area can participate in Tohoku projects when they are unable to travel to Tohoku. Primary and secondary school students from the boy scouts troop helped the children living at the temporary housing site select Christmas presents.  There was much laughter and many smiles while the presents were being opened and while the boy scouts, their scout leaders, the HOT volunteers, the children and their families enjoyed spending time together.  Many of the children living at the temporary housing site are under six years old and have spent much, if not all, of their lives living in temporary housing.      

   We then held a Christmas-themed café at another temporary housing site where the boy scouts and HOT volunteers, all wearing Santa’s helper and reindeer hats, made yakisoba and French toast, grilled sausages and prepared goody bags filled with holiday-themed cookies and sweets. 

   In February, 18 HOT volunteers, including teenagers who live in a children’s home in the Greater Tokyo Area, held a Valentine’s Day themed café at another temporary housing site in Yamamoto-cho for the first time.  We are looking to hold cafes and other events at temporary housing sites in Tohoku that we have not visited before.  HOT volunteers made yakisoba and French toast, grilled sausages (some cut into fun shapes such as like an octopus thanks to the special talents of our HOT volunteers) and served hot drinks and Valentine’s themed cakes and other sweets.  Yakisoba is a nostalgic comfort food in Japan.  One of the temporary housing residents said that the ingredients have gotten more expensive recently so she has not been able to prepare it for her family and she was very happy to have been able to enjoy a yakisoba lunch with her family at the café.

   HOT volunteers in Tokyo also made heart-shaped sugar cookies which we brought to the café and decorated with icing and heart-shaped sprinkles with the temporary housing residents.  It was wonderful seeing multiple generations enjoying time together decorating the Valentine’s cookies and creating new memories.  After lunch one of the HOT volunteers played beautiful songs on his keyboard and then another HOT volunteer demonstrated hula dancing and taught the residents and other HOT volunteers how to hula dance.  We did several hula dances together and learned the meaning of many of the hula dance moves.  Thank you for helping us bring smiles to the faces of so many temporary housing residents. 

   There are still labor shortages in certain parts of Tohoku which makes it very hard for local farmers to further rebuild their lives, run their farms and grow their businesses. They and their families cannot do all the labor-intensive work by themselves.  They need the continued support of volunteers.  With your generous contributions, HOT volunteers have been able to continue to support local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center in Yamamoto-cho.  The New Rice Center gives local rice farmers a place to store equipment and supplies and to work, get together and share information. It also contains new rice thrashing equipment that local farmers can use when harvesting rice and packaging the harvested rice for the market.

   In December, HOT volunteers and boy scouts helped the New Rice Center by attacking a mountain of rice chaff, the protective casings separated from rice grains during the thrashing process.  The rice chaff has to be manually bagged so that it can be taken away and used as fertilizer.  Then, in February, HOT volunteers, including teenagers who live in a children’s home in the Greater Tokyo Area, helped Saito-san and his wife by weeding the inside of several hot houses to help Saito-san and his wife prepare for the next growing season and by striping the bark from logs and then treating the wood so that the logs can be used to build wind barriers.   It is hard to imagine how long it would take local farmers to bag and remove all of the rice chaff and for Saito-san and his wife to prepare for the next growing season without the support of volunteers.   

  We will continue to organize more volunteer trips to further support Saito-san and his wife, the New Rice Center and others in Tohoku as they work hard to further rebuild their lives.  We also will continue the job shadowing program with Saito-san and other local Tohoku farmers for youths who must leave the children’s home when they turn 18.  This will connect local Tohoku farmers who are looking for young people to work with in rebuilding the local agricultural economy and youths who lack family and other support in finding jobs.

  In January, we commenced a new Tohoku volunteer project with BNP Paribas.  Volunteers are helping plant a rose garden at a home in Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture for children who are unable to live with their families.  This project will teach the children the joy of gardening and will help Okada-san who used to have a large rose garden in Fukushima before the nuclear accident forced him to evacuate four years ago.  Okada-san relocated to Tsukuba and greatly missed his hometown and beloved rose garden.  After hearing his story, we suggested to Okada-san that he work with HOT volunteers and children living at this home to plant a new rose garden for future generations to enjoy.  

 None of this would be possible without your generous support. Thank you in advance for your continued support and for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku, particularly at the time of the fourth anniversary.  

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