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08/28/2014

Goodbye, Watanohausu (Watanoha lodging)

It has been decided that Watanohausu (a pun linking Watanoha and hausu which is Japanese pronunciation of house: Watanoha lodging) will close at the end of August after providing volunteers with a floor to sleep for more than three years. This, JEN making practical use of an old folk house in Watanoha district situated on the halfway point between central Ishinomaki and the Oshika peninsula, has been accommodations secured for people coming to Ishinomaki to take part in assistance activities.

【A recent picture of Watanohausu】
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JEN has accepted a total of 13,200 volunteers and worked together with them on from removing rubbles and sludge to assisting fishing industry so that affected people might live independently. Many of the volunteers quartered in Watanohausu because it was difficult to find anywhere to stay right after the disaster.
Among them were a repeat guest who lodged over twenty times and also a long-stay guest who stayed for over thirty days. During the busy day, more than thirty volunteers brought their own sleeping bags and slept in Watanohausu.

【Volunteers taking a group photo by Watanohausu】
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The lodging was in a terrible state before---the lodging didn’t have a bathing facilities until a shower facility was installed in January 2013, if you had vacuum cleaner and other appliances on at the same time you would threw the breaker instantly---. but it has been a place for volunteers to meet other volunteers, warm their cold bodies together over a nabe (Japanese style hot pot) after finishing their volunteer work for the day, hit it off and start up friendship and so on.
The lodging has a common book on which guests have left many messages. Among those messages are one that expresses not only sympathies for disaster-stricken Ishinomaki but concern for JEN staff members, which messages made my eyes watery before I realize it

【A memorial photo of volunteers from many countries and regions at living room】
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【500-to-600-year-old zelkova tree by Watanohausu】
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Although Watanohausu is torn down, it will remain in the volunteers’ minds as their volunteer activities and interaction with locals do.

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August 28, 2014 in Tohoku earthquake |