Donation giving trip to Tohoku Area Japan.

After the last 6 weeks away in Europe and Canada I was back in Japan and man had I missed it and the food, First thing I do anytime I hit Japan is get some sushi in me, It is amazing food and so cheap, everyone thinks Japan is a expensive country but it was way cheaper than alot of places in the world. Get a ticket and come over, You know I’ll be there to help you.

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I dropped in to see Ken Imaya from Bluetag  and Buff Japan and he asked me to help him at a event he was heading to. We were heading to the STRIDER CUP 2013. Now I had no idea what it was but found out it was a kids bike comp, sounded fun. We arrived early and set up the BUFF tent which we got from Gaku Hirasawa at Deportare , Gaku brings these Expotrade tents in from Austria, So so easy to put up and look great.

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There were kids everywhere and families had come from a long way which was awesome, Strider bikes have no pedals so it is like running while sitting on your bike, the kids love it. Lots of crashes,tears and smiles so was great for them to do and us to watch.

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Main sponsor for this comp was New Balance which I loved as they have been helping me for the last 3 yrs. Great work NB

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From there I jumped in the Van I got from ZUN which was the same one I used when I run Japan last year and heading north from Fukushima to Minami Soma . We worked with Kidzania  last year to give a donation to the Odaka primary school . I dropped in to see them again on the way through, So awesome to see the kids again, they did remember me and told me I was a bit fatter than last year cheeky buggars, and chatted with the headmaster and teachers. I hadn’t seen them yet but we got a couple of write ups in the local newspapers so thought I would share them .  ( nah I can’t read them either)

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Then I headed up to Shiogama and met Miyuki Hatanaka, she has been working crazy hard to get things happening in the area since the tsunami. Miyuki started up the HIGH FIVE NPO and got this awesome little food truck going selling local food and going to events supporting everyone. I gave a donation so she can keep doing what she has been doing . Great to see everyone there again.

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I didn’t know but the GARIKI STOCK Festival was on again and when I dropped in the team was busy getting it ready. Last year I had donated $1000 to this years fest and thought it was in July again but they bought it forward a month so perfect timing for me arriving. I was so happy to see it happening again and thinking that we all helped . I so wanted to stay and party but had to keep moving, Had a amazing lunch with Suzuki san and his wife, Fresh as seafood and lots of it. Yes I forgot to be nice and not eat much was just to good. Thanks so much Onagawa city.

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A few shots here from today when I went though, Now just think it has been over 2 yrs from when it hit so things take time. Getting things in normal life back to normal takes a long time when you lose everything.

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I then arrived in Kesennuma which is where I finished my run and it felt amazing to be there again, So many amazing memories and friends here. I jumped on the ferry out to Ooshima island which is only 20 mins away which is where I did a day volunteering and stayed for 2. So great to see the NPO team were still there working hard. I gave another donation here.

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Before I knew what was going all the people I had met and worked with started arriving and bringing so much food. We all know when you live on a island it is all about the seafood. Huge scollops and fresh tuna, I was so happy and after sleeping in the back of the van for a few days I was hungry so said “Itadakimasu” ( what you say before you eat) and all you saw was a smile and smoke coming off my chopsticks. Thankyou so much Ooshima .

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Back in Kesennuma I dropped in to say hi and leave some of the present I was given to pass out last year, I wanted to make sure they would be displayed where people could see them so had waited this long.

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This series of photos is from before during and a year later and this one man went and rented his own diggers, loaders and dump trucks and cleaned up his whole area alone, Just amazing to think of how long that would have taken. To then get the locals together and they built this new temporary shopping centre and a park for the kids to play in.

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Such a amazing story and it was great to see so many people coming back to the area.

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Top selve here is the things that I left. Orange and red bandana’s are from Kidzania, the kids there wrote messages to the people of Tohoku. I got these and more cards of support from all over Japan and was so happy to be the one to hand them over. Thanks so everyone who wrote them.

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Next on the trip was Otsuchi, Where we had stayed last year sleeping in the school that smashed. Alot of the volunteers would stay there when they come to help. Yoshida san here on left was the man behind it all, he drove up from almost the bottom of Japan to help. They told him not too and to go home but he just kept staying and helping, amazing story and I was so lucky to met him. He has been there for over 2 years and knows everyone so I go him to help me find a NPO that I could give a donation too. This is Takahashi san, he has been working hard to bring the fun back to the community and has been running events for the last year. I met him and donated some money so he can keep working hard. So awesome to met him .

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I headed back down towards home and with the help of Yoshida san again I stopped into Rikuzentakata which in my eyes was the most hit area along the whole coast, mainly because it is very flat and all at sea level. The whole flat area which was km’s wide and deep inland was smashed. Everything gone EVERYTHING.  Here I met Okamoto san he is from the area and straight away helped set up SAVE TAKATA NPO. Working hard to help everyone move forward. I had only met one man when I ran though here which was on the last day of my run and in seeing how much was gone I knew I had to find someone or a group here that I could help a little. One phone called and 30 minutes lost trying to find the office I had some new friends and I knew the money we raised would be used well. Thanks so much for meeting with me and keep up the great work you and your team are doing.

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While running I met Takeaki san from the Tasukeai Japan NPO group. he did a interview with me and helped get the word out of our run and also rode his Bike with me for a while , even coming to the finish we had. I called him up to see where I could donate some money too and he introduced me to Naomi Shibuya . Check here to see their NPO facebook page

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Naomi and her friends have been also working hard and getting the strawberry farms back up and growing, He is always dressing up in a strawberry suit to get the kids laughing and showing the rest of japan that their famous strawberries are on the way back. So amazing to met them at 5 hrs notice and they came to met and accept our donation. As always I wasn’t organized to well but knew I would be able to met the right people if I put it out there .

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Five days on the road and I was back to Home Inawashiro in Fukushima, great views and friends to tell the stories of what the week had brung. Loved every minute of this trip and even though it was all but a year since I finished my run there were so many people still working hard to make it perfect again in their areas. It will be another few years yet and most people wont return to their land, not what they want to here and I just hope they can find a new awesome place to live from now on. I will never forget and will travel up again real soon, I have been chatting with a few mates there and we are thinking of starting a few things up. Get the kids out side and having fun again.

Huge thankyou to Jun san at ZUN JAPAN for again helping me with a van to use and live in.

Thanks to everyone who donated to our run and Im sorry I took a while to get it delivered but together we have change some lives and made alot of smiles. Thats gold whenever it happens.  Thankyou.

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