Monday, 13 May 2013

Plastic Cakes, an Immortal Tree, and a Half-marathon

Jenny, Me, & Doug

Last weekend two of my fellow YASCers (Volunteers in the Young Adult Service Corp) came to visit me in Sendai. On Saturday we took them to Ofunato which is one of the devastated cities in the north. 

There is a Japanese class there that the project is facilitating. In July these women (all Filipino with the exception of one Chilean) will be taking the Japanese proficiency test. Once they take and pass that test this helps them prove to potential employers that they can speak and understand Japanese. Therefor it is very important for them to pass this test. On that day we went to give a practice test. While the women took the test, Jenny, Doug, Shota, and I played with the kids. We had “tea time” with a 4 year in the giant playroom. Not only did we drink some delicious invisible tea but we also had a slice of plastic cake to go with it! There is no better way to spend a Saturday morning.

Ippon Matsu
After lunch we showed Jenny and Doug around some of the damaged areas. Along the port in Ofunato there used to be 70,000 trees. Those trees were a huge tourist attraction for that area before the tsunami. However the tsunami destroyed all but one. That tree, Ippon Matsu, now provides hope for the future to the victims and to others all around the world. Even though this 280 year old tree survived the tsunami they were worried that it would die soon due salt water poisoning. Therefor they decided to preserve the tree. This tree will remain to be a tourist attraction and a symbol for hope for the future. Soon they will also build a shrine near the tree. My co-workers took us to see the tree up close.   

Then we went to a see another “monument of the disaster” so to speak. There is a giant boat that was carried about a mile in land by the tsunami. There was talk of dismantling it and adding it to the other waste but it has become a place for people to pray and a reminder of the disaster. So there it shall remain. 

My first half-marathon!
The next day I ran my first ever half-marathon. I can’t believe I am saying this but I actually had a great time. I ran with a group of people, two of which were my co-workers, who were very good at pacing their selves. I decided that if there were people out on the street cheering me on every time I ran, I would run all the time. Afterwards we went out to celebrate! It was a great weekend. 

The boat that is now in the middle of a former neighboorhood
A couple of running buddies before the race

Japanese know how to dress for races!

Santa Claus even made an appearance
Mickey Mouse ran as well!

All the runners and our cheering squad

Race was a success!

 As always thanks for tuning in.



  1. Congratulations on your first half marathon. And thank you sharing your joy and love serving others. So very proud of you.
    love ya
    Sister Mary Francis

  2. Love this post :) I'm still in awe of your marathon run, you ARE AWESOME!!! I hope to see you soon in tochigi!!

  3. That ship in the middle of the neighbourhood could serve as a reminder of the tsunami, and the strength of the waves that took life mercilessly.