Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project

by Hands On Tokyo
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Disaster Recovery Volunteer Project
Thank you very much for all your continued support this year.  You have helped us assure people in Tohoku that they have not been forgotten as they continue to overcome daily challenges in rebuilding their lives more than seven and a half years after the devastating earthquake and tsunami.  Recovery and rebuilding take years. There are still people living in what was originally intended to be temporary housing and there are still significant housing, infrastructure, labor and other shortages in the region.  In addition, with the passage of time and the occurrence of devastating natural disasters in other parts of Japan, the number of volunteers going to and the amount of charitable donations being made for Tohoku continue to drop. 
 
Since our last report, we have taken four groups of children and their caregivers from four different children’s homes in the Greater Tokyo Area to Miyagi Prefecture by bus to volunteer, gain greater confidence and learn about disaster preparedness.  These volunteer trips and critical learning experiences are only possible with your generous donations. 
 
Late summer and early autumn are very busy times for farmers in Tohoku as it is their primary growing season and when they must prepare for harvesting their crops  Labor shortages continue to make it very hard for local farmers in Tohoku to run their farms and in turn to further rebuild their lives. Many of the local farms are family run with one, two or three family members doing all the work themselves.  Growing rice, vegetables and fruit sufficient enough to earn a modest livelihood and to repay the significant debts they incurred after the earthquake and tsunami is very labor intensive and the local farmers cannot do all the work by themselves.  They need the continued support of volunteers. 
 
With your generous donations, Hands On Tokyo was able to bring the children and their caregivers to Miyagi Prefecture to help local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center (NRC) in Yamamoto-cho.  The NRC is an agricultural association of local farmers who grow and promote local rice and local produce.
In August, Hands On Tokyo brought 16 volunteers from a Greater Tokyo Area children’s home — including junior and senior high school boys suffering from “shut in syndrome” — to Yamamoto-cho.  We helped Saito-san by weeding two of his negi (Japanese leek) fields.  Afterwards the boys prepared and enjoyed a BBQ with Saito-san and his family.  This was the first time the boys ever volunteered and they really applied themselves and did a terrific job helping Saito-san.  It was also heartwarming to see how they supported one another and how they made sure each of them had a chance to help with the BBQ.  It was also important for their caregivers to see what the boys are capable of doing. 
In August, Hands On Tokyo also brought 18 volunteers from another Greater Tokyo Area children’s home — including junior and high school boys and girls — to Yamamoto-cho.  We helped Saito-san by building up the soil beds on either side of his negi (Japanese leek) plants in two fields so that the plants can grow straight and strong. 
In September, Hands On Tokyo brought 17 volunteers from another Greater Tokyo Area children’s home — including junior and senior high school boys and girls — to Yamamoto-cho.  We helped Saito-san by removing dead rice plantings from plastic plant trays and cleaning the trays so that they can be reused next year.  During this activity, the children learned an important lesson about sustainability and reusing what can be reused in our daily lives.  Afterwards the children prepared and enjoyed a BBQ with Saito-san and his family. 
In September, Hands On Tokyo also brought 22 volunteers from another Greater Tokyo Area children’s home — including junior and senior high school boys and girls — to Yamamoto-cho.  We helped Saito-san by weeding two of his negi (Japanese leek) fields.
 
The local farmers always ask us to convey to everyone who supports our volunteer activities in Tohoku just how much they appreciate all the support.  What Hands On Tokyo volunteers are able to accomplish in a day would take the local farmers and their families many days to complete.  Saito-san also said having the children enjoy a BBQ with his grandchildren was like having a festival on his farm — something his family has not been able to enjoy much since the earthquake and tsunami.  Children’s laughter and smiles can be very healing in an area still recovering from natural disasters.  His neighbor also commented how lucky Saito-san was to still have the support of volunteers. 
All of the children also received natural disaster awareness and preparedness training.  We took the volunteers from two of the children’s homes to an elementary school near Sendai which was an evacuation center during the tsunami and is now a museum.  The children, teachers and local residents on the roof of the school survived the tsunami which tragically washed away the surrounding area.  We took the volunteers from the other two children’s homes to an elementary school near Yamamoto-cho which is now a memorial.  There the teachers, students and some local residents survived the tsunami by standing on the highest point of the school.  The volunteers from one children’s home also received extra natural disaster awareness and preparedness training in Ogatsu.  All of the students and their caregivers said how impactful this training was and how it will improve their own natural disaster preparedness. 
 
Ogatsu in Miyagi Prefecture was completely devastated by the tsunami and is still far from being ready for reconstruction and redevelopment.  
 
In August, Hands On Tokyo — with your generous support — brought children and their caregivers from a children’s home in the Greater Tokyo Area to do gardening at the Ogatsu Rose Garden Factory.  We moved planters so that the plants could get more sunshine, pruned the plants and added topsoil to the planters.  We also cleaned and helped better organize one area of the garden. 
 
In September, Hands On Tokyo brought children and their caregivers from another Greater Tokyo Area children’s home to Ogatsu.  We helped prepare lavender seedlings. 
 
A local resident built this garden near the land where her mother perished in the tsunami to calm the souls of those who perished in the tsunami and so that former residents and visitors can once again see beauty when they first enter Ogatsu.  It is also a place where families go to grieve the loss of their loved ones in the tsunami. 
 
On the way to Ogatsu, we also stopped at Ogawa Elementary School to pay respects by offering incense and flowers to the souls of the teachers and students who tragically perished in the tsunami.  In September, a couple who lost their two grandchildren in the tsunami were there at the same time and they said how comforting it was to see children the same age that their grandchildren would be now had they survived paying their respects.  They thanked us for bringing the children there and for not forgetting their grandchildren and their classmates. 
 
All these volunteer trips were very impactful on the children and their caregivers.  For the children who are the beneficiaries of volunteer activities at their children’s homes, these volunteer trips have been an opportunity to experience volunteering themselves, to gain new experiences and life skills and to gain further self confidence.  Thank you very much for your generous support in helping make all this possible.  The children greatly appreciate the opportunity and are still benefiting from all that they learned and experienced.  Many want to volunteer again and they have encouraged others in their children’s homes to volunteer in the future. 
 
There is still so much to be done and there are still many people in need of encouragement and support in Tohoku.  With your generous support, we will continue to organize volunteer trips to help farmers and others in Tohoku as they continue to work very hard to rebuild their lives. We already have a volunteer trip planned later this month and another in December. 
 
Thank you very much in advance for your continued generosity, for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku and for helping provide these life changing volunteer opportunities to so many children living in children’s homes in the Greater Tokyo Area.  
 
Slowly but steadily the road to recovery is being paved.  
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Thank you very much for all your continued support so far this year.  You have helped us further assure people in Tohoku that they have not been forgotten as they continue to overcome daily challenges in rebuilding their lives more than seven years after the devastating earthquake and tsunami.  Recovery and rebuilding take years. There are still people living in what was originally intended to be temporary housing and there are still significant housing, infrastructure, labor and other shortages in the region.  In addition, with the passage of time and the occurrence of devastating natural disasters in other parts of Japan, the number of volunteers going to and the amount of charitable donations being made for Tohoku continue to drop. 
 
Over the past three months, we have been very busy preparing to take groups of children and their teachers and caregivers from five different children’s homes in the Greater Tokyo Area to volunteer and to learn about disaster preparedness in Miyagi Prefecture this coming August, September and October. 
 
Late summer and early autumn are very busy times for farmers as it is their primary growing season and when they must prepare for harvesting their crops  Labor shortages continue to make it very hard for local farmers in Tohoku to run their farms and in turn to further rebuild their lives. Many of the local farms are family run with one, two or three family members doing all the work themselves.  Growing rice, vegetables and fruit sufficient enough to earn a modest livelihood and to repay the significant debts they incurred after the earthquake and tsunami is very labor intensive and the local farmers cannot do all the work by themselves.  They need the continued support of volunteers. 
 
With your generous donations, Hands On Tokyo will bring the children and their teachers and caregivers to Miyagi Prefecture to help local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center (NRC) in Yamamoto-cho.  The NRC is an agricultural association of local farmers who produce and promote local rice and local produce. 
 
We anticipate helping Saito-san with his paprika plants.  Paprikas are Saito-san’s primary crop so his family’s livelihood depends on the strength of his paprika harvest each year.  We will also help Saito-san with other farming chores like weeding and clearing fields. 
 
The local farmers always ask us to convey to everyone who supports our volunteer activities in Tohoku just how much they appreciate all the support.  What Hands On Tokyo volunteers are able to accomplish in a day would take the local farmers and their families many days to complete. 
We also will take the volunteers from the children’s homes to an elementary school near Sendai which was an evacuation center during the tsunami and is now a museum.  The children, teachers and local residents on the roof of the school survived the tsunami which tragically washed away the surrounding area.  We will take the volunteers there for natural disaster awareness and preparedness training. 
Ogatsu in Miyagi Prefecture was completely devastated by the tsunami and is still far from being ready for reconstruction and redevelopment.  During the next three months, Hands On Tokyo will also bring children and their teachers and caretakers from children’s homes in the Greater Tokyo Area to weed, plant new plants and do other gardening at the Ogatsu Rose Garden Factory.  A local resident founded this garden on the land where her mother perished in the tsunami to calm the souls of those who perished in the tsunami and so that former residents and visitors can once again see beauty when they first enter Ogatsu.  It is also a place where families go to grieve the loss of their loved ones in the tsunami. 
Hands On Tokyo has conducted several of these volunteer trips for children’s homes in the Greater Tokyo Area over the past few years and these volunteer trips have been very impactful on the children and their teachers and caregivers.  For the children who are the beneficiaries of volunteer activities at their children’s homes, these volunteer trips have been an opportunity to experience volunteering themselves, to gain new experiences and life skills and to gain further self confidence.  Thank you very much for your generous support in helping make all this possible.  The children greatly appreciate the opportunity and are still benefiting from all that they learned and experienced.  Many want to volunteer again and they have encouraged others in their children’s homes to volunteer in the future. 
 
There is still so much to be done and there are still many people in need of encouragement and support in Tohoku.  With your generous support, we will continue to organize volunteer trips to help farmers and others in Tohoku as they continue to work very hard to rebuild their lives. 
 
Thank you very much in advance for your continued generosity, for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku and for helping provide these life changing volunteer opportunities to so many children living in children’s homes in the Greater Tokyo Area.  Slowly but steadily the road to recovery is being paved.
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It is very hard to believe that it has been seven years since the earthquake and tsunami devastated the Tohoku region.  Thank you so much for continuing to help us further assure people in Tohoku that they have not been forgotten as they continue to overcome daily challenges in rebuilding their lives.  Recovery and rebuilding take years. People are still living in what was originally intended to be temporary housing and there are significant housing, infrastructure, labor and other shortages in the region.  In addition, with the passage of time, the number of volunteers going to and the amount of charitable donations for Tohoku continue to drop.

 Late winter and early spring are very busy times for farmers in Tohoku as they must work hard to prepare for the new growing season.  Labor shortages continue to make it very hard for local farmers in Tohoku to run their farms and in turn to further rebuild their lives. Many of the local farms are family run with one, two or three family members doing all the work themselves.  Growing rice, vegetables and fruit sufficient enough to earn a modest livelihood is very labor intensive and the local farmers cannot do all the work by themselves.  They need the continued support of volunteers.

 With your generous donations, Hands On Tokyo volunteers have been able to continue to support local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center (NRC) in Yamamoto-cho in Miyagi Prefecture. The NRC is an agricultural association of local farmers who produce and promote local rice and local produce.

 In February, we took 14 volunteers to help Saito-san and his wife prepare to dismantle and remove several large green houses where they have been growing their primary crop — paprika.  Since the tsunami washed away their home and their paprika farm, the Saito Family has been leasing land further inland where they have been growing paprika.  The lease, however, is expiring so the Saito Family must dismantle the green houses and reassemble them on new leased land. 

 Over two days, the volunteers helped by removing 1,000s of clips, nets and other materials that were used to secure the paprika plants as they grew and by dismantling all the piping inside the green houses.  It was a massive job and the Saito Family will reuse all these materials when they reassemble the green houses on new leased land.

 In April, we took 25 volunteers to Fukushima for the first time in order to help four farming families prepare for the new growing season.

 One family grows rice and the volunteers helped prepare rice plant seedlings.  We prepared trays with soil, planted seedlings and carried the completed trays to green houses.  After the seedlings grow a bit bigger, the family will plant them in the rice fields.

 The other three families grow peach and apple trees.  Fukushima is known for its delicious peaches and apples.  The volunteers helped these families by thinning out the peach blossoms so that this year’s peaches will be large and juicy.

 The local farmers always ask us to convey to everyone who supports our volunteer activities in Tohoku just how much they appreciate all the support.  What Hands On Tokyo volunteers are able to accomplish in two days would take the local farmers and their families many days to complete.  At the end of each day, Saito-san and his wife looked at the green houses, the rice farmers looked at the seedlings, and the fruit tree farmers looked at the peach trees with tremendous gratitude. They never imagined that the volunteers could do so much.

 With your generous support, we will continue to organize volunteer trips to further support local farmers in Tohoku as they continue to work very hard to further rebuild their lives.

 We are also continuing to organize projects in Tokyo for volunteers residing in Tokyo who want to support Tohoku but are unable to travel to Tohoku.

 There is still so much to be done in Tohoku and there are still many people in need of support and encouragement.

 Thank you very much in advance for your continued support this year and for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku.

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Thank you very much for all your continued support.  You have helped us further assure people in Tohoku that they have not been forgotten as they continue to overcome daily challenges in rebuilding their lives nearly seven years after the devastating earthquake and tsunami.  Recovery and rebuilding take years. There are still people living in what was originally intended to be temporary housing and there are significant housing, infrastructure, labor and other shortages in the region.  In addition, with the passage of time, the number of volunteers going to and the amount of charitable donations for Tohoku continue to drop. 
 
Autumn and early winter are very busy times for farmers in Tohoku as they must work hard to harvest their crops and then clear and prepare the fields for winter.  Labor shortages continue to make it very hard for local farmers in Tohoku to run their farms and, as a result, further rebuild their lives. Many of the local farms are family run with one, two or three family members doing all the work themselves.  Growing rice, vegetables, and fruit sufficient enough to earn a modest livelihood is very labor intensive and the local farmers cannot do all the work by themselves.  They need the continued support of volunteers. 
 
With your generous donations, Hands On Tokyo volunteers have been able to continue to support local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center (NRC) in Yamamoto-cho in Miyagi Prefecture. The NRC is an agricultural association of local farmers who produce and promote local rice and local produce. 
 
In December, we took 15 volunteers — including members of a boy scout troop from The American School in Japan — to help Saito-san and his wife.  The boy scouts were between 11 and 16 years old and more than half had volunteered in Tohoku with Hands On Tokyo before.  
 
Over two days, the volunteers helped by clearing dead eggplant plants (which have large branches and deep roots) from a large field.  Eggplants grow quite well in soil that was impacted by saltwater and sand during the tsunami so eggplants have become one of Saito-san’s primary crops together with paprika and leeks.
 
The local farmers always ask us to convey to everyone who supports our volunteer activities in Tohoku just how much they appreciate all the support.  What Hands On Tokyo volunteers are able to accomplish in one or two days would take the local farmers and their families many days to complete.  At the end of each day, Saito-san and his wife looked at the eggplant field with deep gratitude. They never imagined that the volunteers could do so much in two days. 
 
With your generous support, we are continuing to organize volunteer trips to further support local farmers in Tohoku as they continue to work very hard to further rebuild their lives. We already have a volunteer trip to Tohoku planned for February during which we will help Saito-san and his wife dismantle several large greenhouses so that they can reuse the materials to build greenhouses in another area. 
 
We also took the volunteers to an elementary school near Sendai which was an evacuation center during the tsunami and is now a museum.  The children, teachers and local residents in the school survived the tsunami which tragically washed away the surrounding area.  We took the volunteers there for natural disaster awareness and preparedness training.  It was particularly impactful because the boy scouts have recently attended elementary school themselves.  They learned the importance of acting quickly when there is a natural disaster and of always updating one’s evacuation plans. 
This volunteer trip was also very impactful on the volunteers because they could see firsthand how an area devastated by a natural disaster is recovering day by day.  Thank you very much for your generous support in helping make all this possible.  The volunteers greatly appreciated the opportunity and are still benefiting from all that they learned and experienced.  Many want to volunteer again and they have encouraged others in their boy scouts troop and in their school to volunteer in the future. 
 
We are also continuing to organize projects in Tokyo for volunteers residing in Tokyo who want to support Tohoku but are unable to travel to Tohoku.  Since our last report, we organized two projects in Tokyo so that volunteers could make Christmas wreaths and Christmas stockings for people Tohoku residents who survived the earthquake and tsunami. 
 
Minami Soma in Fukushima Prefecture was greatly impacted by the earthquake and tsunami. The town is relatively near the nuclear power facility and the local residents were evacuated very abruptly after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami without any time to prepare or any sense of how long they would be away from their homes.  In July 2016 residents were allowed to begin returning to the town.  However, even now, many Minami Soma residents are still living in temporary housing.  We delivered the Christmas wreaths and Christmas stockings to people still living in temporary housing in Minami Soma.  It meant a lot to the temporary housing site residents to be remembered and encouraged during the holiday season. 
 
We also delivered Christmas wreaths and Christmas stockings to senior citizens from Ogatsu in Miyagi Prefecture, who survived the earthquake and tsunami and are now living in a nursing home near Ogatsu.  Ogatsu was completely devastated by the tsunami and it still will be some time before local residents will be allowed to move back to Ogatsu. Thank you very much for helping us bring a bit of Christmas Spirit to these nursing home residents.
With your generous support, we are continuing to organize volunteer projects in Tohoku and in Tokyo to further support and encourage the local residents in Minami Soma and Ogatsu. 
 
There is still so much to be done in Tohoku and there are still many people in need of support and encouragement. 
 
Thank you very much in advance for your continued support this year and for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku.  Slowly but steadily the road to recovery is being paved.
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Thank you very much for all your continued support so far this year.  You have helped us further assure many people in Tohoku that they have not been forgotten as they continue to overcome daily challenges in rebuilding their lives more than six years after the devastating earthquake and tsunami.  Recovery and rebuilding take years. There are still people living in what was originally intended to be temporary housing and there are significant housing, infrastructure, labor and other shortages in the region.  In addition, with the passage of time, the number of volunteers going to and the amount of charitable donations for Tohoku continue to drop. 
 
Late summer and early autumn are very busy times for farmers as it is their primary growing season and when they must prepare for harvesting their crops  Labor shortages continue to make it very hard for local farmers in Tohoku to run their farms and in turn to further rebuild their lives. Many of the local farms are family run with one, two or three family members doing all the work themselves.  Growing rice, vegetables and fruit sufficient enough to earn a modest livelihood is very labor intensive and the local farmers cannot do all the work by themselves.  They need the continued support of volunteers. 
 
With your generous donations, Hands On Tokyo volunteers have been able to continue to support local farmers, Saito-san and his wife, and the New Rice Center (NRC) in Yamamoto-cho in Miyagi Prefecture. The NRC is an agricultural association of local farmers who produce and promote local rice and local produce. 
 
In September, we made two trips to help Saito-san and his wife.  
 
The first group of 22 volunteers — including children living in one of the children’s homes in the Greater Tokyo Area — helped by clipping paprika plants to netting to ensure that the paprika plants and the paprikas continue to grow without breaking the plants’ branches and by removing clips which are no longer needed from the lower sections of the plants.  This process must take place several times during the growing season as the plants grow.  It is a very labor intensive process.  The Hands On Tokyo volunteers handled 1,000s of clips in the course of the afternoon.  Paprikas are Saito-san’s primary crop so his family’s livelihood depends on the strength of his paprika harvest each year. 
 
A week later 22 Hands On Tokyo Volunteers — including children living in eight different children’s homes in the Greater Tokyo Area — helped Saito-san and his wife by weeding their leek field. 
 
The local farmers always ask us to convey to everyone who supports our volunteer activities in Tohoku just how much they lappreciate all the support.  What Hands On Tokyo volunteers are able to accomplish in a day would take the local farmers and their families many days to complete.  At the end of each day, Saito-san and his wife looked at the paprika greenhouses and the leek field with deep gratitude. They never imagined that the volunteers could do so much in two days. 
 
With your generous support, we are continuing to organize volunteer trips to further support local farmers in Tohoku as they continue to work very hard to further rebuild their lives. We already have a volunteer trip to Tohoku planned for December.
 
Another area greatly impacted by the earthquake and tsunami is Minami Soma in Fukushima Prefecture.  It is relatively near the nuclear power facility and the local residents were evacuated very abruptly soon after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami without any time to prepare or any sense of how long they would be away from their homes.  In July 2016 residents were allowed to begin returning to the town but that did not mean they could immediately return to living in their homes.  The properties were as they were immediately after the earthquake and tsunami and the land was overgrown. The area and homes were essentially uninhabitable without a lot of hard work to be done.  Many of the residents who want to return are elderly and unable to do all the hard work.  Even now many Minami Soma residents are still living in temporary housing.  
The community greatly needs the continued support of volunteers.  In September we sent two volunteer groups to Minami Soma.
The first group of 22 volunteers — including children from one of the children’s homes in the Greater Tokyo Area — helped cut down weeds at a temporary housing site and visited with the temporary housing site residents.  It meant a lot to the temporary housing site residents just to have visitors. 
The second group of 22 volunteers — including children from eight different children’s homes in the Greater Tokyo Area — helped tame an overgrown field that had been untouched for over six years.  They weeded by hand and with mowers. 
With your generous support, we are continuing to organize volunteer projects in Minami Soma to further support and encourage the local residents.  We already have a volunteer trip to Minami Soma planned for November. 
 
We also took the group of volunteers from the one children’s home in the Greater Tokyo Area and a group of boys from a children’s home in the Greater Tokyo Area especially for boys suffering from shut in syndrome (that is, children who are socially withdrawn) to an elementary school near Sendai which was an evacuation center during the tsunami and is now a museum.  The children, teachers and local residents in the school survived the tsunami which tragically washed away the surrounding area.  We took the children there for natural disaster awareness and preparedness training.  It was particularly impactful because the school is very similar to the elementary schools they themselves have attended.  They learned the importance of acting quickly when there is a natural disaster and of always updating one’s evacuation plans. 
 
These volunteer trips were also very impactful on the children and their teachers and caregivers.  For the children who are the beneficiaries of volunteer activities at their children’s homes, it was an opportunity to experience volunteering themselves, to gain new experiences and life skills and to gain further self confidence.  For the children, teachers and caregivers at the eight different children’s homes, it was an opportunity to share information, to make new friends and to realize there are others just like them in similar circumstances.  And, for the boys, it was a huge step for them just to have gone on the trip and to have adhered to a time schedule and it was very impactful for them to see how an area devastated by a natural disaster is recovering day by day. They too gained new experiences that helped them gain further self confidence and life skills.  Thank you very much for your generous support in helping make all this possible.  The children greatly appreciated the opportunity and are still benefiting from all that they learned and experienced.  Many want to volunteer again and they have encouraged others in their children’s homes to volunteer in the future. 
 
There is still so much to be done in Tohoku and there are still many people in need of support and encouragement. 
 
Thank you very much in advance for your continued support and for touching the hearts and souls of so many people in Tohoku.  Slowly but steadily the road to recovery is being paved.
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Hands On Tokyo

Location: Tokyo - Japan
Website:
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Twitter: @Hands_On_Tokyo
Project Leader:
Naho Hozumi
Tokyo, Japan

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