Kamome Gakuen blooming Tulips

By Joji
Last December, nadia volunteers visited Kamome Gakuen, a school for disabled kids、to celebrate Christmas.   While there we planted a small tree and tulips and with the coming of spring  the tulips have bloomed.
We also donated a play bench to complement the playground set we built two years ago.

Tulips are perennials that bloom yearly and we hope that they symbolize our commitment to the school and to Tohoku.   Thanks to all who make this possible.




Kamome Gakuen Christmas Party 2015 – Report

It’s the third time hosting a Christmas party at Kamome Gakuen in Ishinomaki and the children and families were delighted to join in the festivities. Volunteers prepared food for the event on Saturday.


There was an abundance of food and good cheer for the 53 kids and adults on Sunday. Santa Claus was a big hit with the students from Kamome . The children smiles even greater with gifts from Santa with the help of his special Reindeer. Great time for the kids, families, the staff and volunteers too. Merry Christmas



Playground of Hope in Shinchi, Fukushima – Report

Shinchi, Fukushima, Sept. 4-5, 2015

A New Playground for the Kids in Shinchi, Fukushima


Event Overview
Late last year, Playground of Hope (PoH) proposed to nadia to work on a joint project for building a playground in Shinchi Machi, Fukushima. The Fukushima prefecture has been greatly affected by the March-11, 2011 disaster, from the earthquake, the tsunami and following radiation. It has also been affected by another disaster: being forgotten and left out of most of the volunteer and rebuilding recovery efforts as often Miyagi prefecture and the city of Ishinomaki have seen more inflows of volunteers. As the situation evolved in Fukushima and the level of radiation receeded to normal and safe levels (even below Tokyo levels in many areas such as Shinchi). nadia decided to work on the deployment of a new Playground of Hope at Komagamine Elementary School.

The fundraising efforts
Such endeavors requires a lot of support, both in terms of volunteers and also financially. nadia approached its partner organizations, Societe Generale and The Lycée Français International de Tokyo (LFIT) to help deliver on this project.

02Societe Generale organized a Bike Ride fundraiser on Oct. 25-26, 2014 to raise funds for this project.  More than 20 staff from it’s Tokyo office volunteered in the fundraiser efforts and committed to raise over 600 euros each in support of nadia.  Many staff, friends and family members supported each of the bike riders fundraisers.

03A few weeks later, the The Lycée Français International de Tokyo also organized the Course de Noël (Christmas Run) where kids from the primary school setup a fundraiser race also in support of nadia. Many kids, their parents, school staff and teachers contributed to the fundraising efforts.  Both events allowed nadia to raise a very large portion of the funds necessary for the project.

The building of the playground and volunteer efforts
In September 2015, 17 Societe Generale employees and family members as well as 11 LFIT students, teachers and parents volunteered to be part of the deployment of the Playground at Komagamine Elementary School.

The volunteers left on the evening of Friday September 4th and travelled by bus to Sendai. The journey by bus went really smoothly and we all went to bed quickly in order to be ready and sharp for the big day the next morning leaving Sendai at 8am to be in Shinchi-Machi at 9am.

04Upon our arrival we were warmly greeted by the Komagamine Elementary school staff along with PoH team.  The representatives of the school explained how the area had been impacted by the March 11 disaster and how the area and school has been recovering and now welcomes displaced kids (14% of the 166 kids) from other affected areas of Fukushima. Although radiation levels in this town is now below Tokyo levels, the city and whole prefecture are now fighting another problem: obesity in kids is on the rise following years of reduced outdoor play, hence the importance of providing this new playground to the community. After this explanation, everyone got to meet each other briefly in order to get to work together as efficiently as possible.

05We were assigned tasks that were super well organised and everything went very smoothly and fast. By noon, 75% of the playground was already set up. We took a welcome lunch break together again, allowing everyone to get to know each other a little bit more.  By 4pm the playground was fully completed and it was time for a big BBQ and fun sharing times, that again, the volunteers teams pulled out beautifully. The local families and friends of the school were amazed and happy how such a jolly fun group of people managed to give their kids the best gifts of all : being able to PLAY MORE !

All in all, this project and adventure was a huge success by telling how louds the laughters were heard and cheers the kids made when they were finally allowed to play with their new playground.

Everyone worked hard and enthusiastically throughout the day, working in groups where one another hardly knew each other but always followed the tasks assigned with smiles and cheers. Everyone got along so well in a very simple and efficient manner, teaching the great values of effort, team spirit, giving and thankfulness.

06A word of thanks
This project would not be possible without the contribution of all the volunteers from and donators who supported it. The smiles on the local kids faces, and on everyone’s faces were priceless.  The memory of happy volunteers that gave their time, support and full enthusiasm on that day and the immediate results of this fantastic project will resonate for many years to come in our minds and hearts. We all wish to be part of more projects like that in the months and years to come!  Thanks for your support.  Best wishes and see you all soon for the next project !


Volunteering in Joso – Report

On September 10 2015 the Kinugawa River banks bursted in Joso city after the heavy rainfall of Typhoon Etau. It caused massive flooding in the Joso area and other places in Tochigi and Ibaraki.

The weekend after the disaster nadia core member Mamiko was already up in Joso and started connecting and coordinating with local groups, other volunteers and the official volunteer center.

Before and during Silver week nadians gathered and drove up to Joso to help with the cleanup.

There were piles of garbage along the roads and in dedicated waste zones. Water always causes huge damage as we know.

We received work assignments from another volunteer group and the official Joso volunteer center. Work was hard and included removing of wooden flooring, removal of dirt and water underneath floors and various other tasks.

It’s only about an hour drive from central Tokyo to Joso, if you are interested in volunteering in Joso, then you can contact

1) official Joso volunteer center – http://joso.vc

or we also recommend

2) independent volunteer center (Genki Mura – contact person Mr. Hattori).
Mr. Hattori plans to continue helping to at least the end of the year, volunteers are welcome. They will supply basic tools so volunteers just need to bring their own boots, gloves, masks etc.
Please contact nadia for contact info.

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The first assignment of the day, removing flooring, in front of a butsudan

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Team nadia members in action

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Otsukaresama! Mami after a trip underneath the narrow floor

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Combined forces with team Rob

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The hard working nadia crew

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Floor removing for a family with a friendly cat

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This is what we do

by Rolf

Yamathon 2015 – Report

By Ron Choi

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Figure 1. 770 Yamathon participants packed the Galleria area in Tokyo building.

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Figure 2. J.P. Morgan Lentos II team had hands down the most interesting station photos.

On 30th of May, 2015, close to 800 people participated in Yamathon, a race around the 29 stations of Yamanote line in Tokyo.   The event is quite familiar to the Tokyo residents as it has been held annually since 2009.   This year International Volunteer Group (IVG), the organizer of Yamathon, decided to support NADIA to help their efforts in Tohoku recovery. Joe Pournovin, Events Director for IVG, noted they became interested helping NADIA after seeing its numerous projects in Tohoku area.   The raised funds from this year’s Yamathon will go towards, among other things, building more playgrounds in Tohoku.

In Yamathon, teams of four are required to walk or run to all 29 stations and take a photo of themselves in front of each station sign to prove they visited all the stations along the Yamanote line.   Most people walk. Some run. It is not only a physical challenge, but is also a navigational challenge as the total distance can be anywhere between 40 to 48 km depending on the paths one takes.   Majority of the participants have difficulty navigating the tracks between Gotanda and Shinagawa where the route from one station to another is far from obvious.

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Figure 3. The funds raised in Yamathon will go towards building more playgrounds like this in Tohoku.

2015 Yamathon was special for a number of reasons.   First, it was the venue.   This year’s event was held in the Galleria area of Tokyo building, quite a departure from Yoyogi Park and Tokyo International Forum.  It’s indoors and a much smaller location, but it provided an opportunity to be much better organized. The post-event fundraiser party was held at P.C.M., the bar on the first floor of the same building, which proved to be a big hit with the participants. The bar provided a great location to raise more funds through holding a raffle. NADIA provided many volunteers who were involved in the organizing with IVG for months leading up to the event and also doing the physical work of putting on the big event itself. The total number of participants was the largest ever –210 teams with 770 walkers and runners, a huge increase from 480 in 2014.

The feedback from the participants was resoundingly positive.   Yamathon is, more than anything, a fun event.   One doesn’t have to be super fit athlete to participate.   Some families with children completed the entire course.   Also, given that teams are required to take photos at each station, this provides many opportunities to be creative. In fact, some of the photos taken are quite amazing in their inventiveness.   Many teams take long breaks during the race – stopping in cafes and restaurants for food and drinks, etc. are all par for the course.   There were a large number of teams wearing costumes, making it a much livelier event.

Given the success of this year, the organizers are quite optimistic they may be able to break the 1000 participants figure next year. It only means more funds raised for worthy Tohoku for more years to  come.

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Figure 4. More playgrounds like these will be built thanks to Yamathon.

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Figure 5. J.P. Morgan Lentos II team had hands down the most interesting station photos.

Playground of Hope Repair Trip Report – May 2015

            By Ron Choi

1Figure 1. Our May volunteers in front of the refinished playground at Kaihatsu Koen #599 in Ishinomaki, Miyagi-ken.

On 9th and 10th of May, 2015, International Volunteer Group (IVG) and NADIA volunteers, in partnership with the members of Playground of Hope (PoH), conducted maintenance and repair work on the beautiful playgrounds built by NADIA two years ago in Ishinomaki and Minamisanriku, Miyagi prefecture. It was the first playground repair trip for NADIA..

It was also the first time IVG members participated in a NADIA volunteer trip. Starting this year, IVG, the organizer of an endurance race called Yamathon, will donate all funds raised through their event to NADIA. In its seventh year, the Yamathon is a endurance race by teams of three or four navigating all 29 stations of Yamanote Line, which encircles the central area of Tokyo. It is a hugely popular and fun race, but it also raises money for good causes. Joe Pournovin of IVG told how Yamathon was started, “We wanted to do something in Tokyo, some sort of endurance challenge. You look at certain other events … they’re expensive, you need to take time off work, you need to commit to training and practice. Yamathon, you don’t need to do so much training. It’s in the center of Tokyo, and it’s affordable.”

2Figure 2. 2014 Yamathon walkers and runners.

NADIA is extremely grateful for the donation, much of which will help us continue the Playground Of Hope project. NADIA is also helping IVG in organizing, planning, and executing the Yamathon event on May 30th. This year’s event will be the biggest ever. The venue will be in Tokyo Building ( a.k.a. TOKIA building ) in Marunouchi, Tokyo, located next to Tokyo Station. It will also host Tohoku Market. Many vendors, such as Fukushima-kan from Tohoku will bring local crafts, food, sake, juices and sweets,. There will also be a post-event fundraiser party at PCM, a bar next to event venue which will have DJs playing excellent music and IVG will auction off prizes to raise money for NADIA.

3Figure 3. 2014 Yamathon participants are required to take photos at each station to prove they covered the entre distance. Some of the racers are quite creative with photos. Like theis team from J.P. Morgan in 2014.

When we arrived at the job site at Kaihatsu Koen #599 in Watanoha area of Ishinomaki, we found children and parents already at the park. The park has become a focal point for the community. The residents, many of whom still living in temporary housing compounds near the park, meet and gather there each and everyday. The community leaders and towns folks remembered us from our build trip back in August of 2013. They came to thank us and brought food and drinks for us. Many of the children wanted to help with sanding the wood. There were many touching moments throughout the day.

The play set looked worn out. Hundreds of kids must have played there the past two years. Some wooden beams were chipped and much of the waterproof stain was gone. Some nuts and bolts needed tightening. We spent the entire Saturday patching, sanding, and apply wood stain to make sure the play set will last a long time. After a daylong activity, the play set looked absolutely brand new. The town kids who show up on Sunday morning will be pleasantly surprised.

On Sunday, we drove to Minamisanriku to do some repair work on the second playground we built back in September of 2013. It is on a gorgeous park with lots of greenery and grass. When we arrived we found two root sidings on the small tower were missing. We cut down a wood panel to replace the missing pieces on the roof. We did more patching, sanding, and painted on wood stains.

4Figure 4. The playground we built in Minamisanriku back in September of 2013. It is situated in a beautiful park with green grass.









Figure 5. Our volunteers, Joe Pournovin and Tsutomu Horiuchi, test out the playground.

Joe Pounovin said of the trip, “An unbelievable weekend with some wonderful people fixing playgrounds in Ishinomaki and Minamisanriku. Seeing the good in doing good and doing it with a smile – that’s what it’s all about.”

7Figure 6. NADIA and IVG volunteers being supervised by Michael Anop of Playground of Hope.

It was a great trip. Hopefully we can continue to go back to maintain all the playground we built in 2013 and 2014. We will need donations and volunteers. Thanks to all for helping us.

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Figure 7. Koji Oishi and Jennifer Guess of IVG and our hero, Tsutomu Horiuchi-san.

10Figure 8. Uga Kayo of Ishinomaki made this bento for us. Undoubtedly the best bento in Tohoku.

11Figure 9. Sharing the sweets given to us by local residents with a local child.

12Figure 10. Local children wanted to help out with sanding.

13Figure 11. All our volunteers after the repair work was finished..

Ochakko Mochitsuki Taikai

By Joji

Date: January 17, 2015
Location: Minato-ku, Ishinomaki (Ochakko)
Attendees: Maya, Rolf, Joji

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The event was attended by approximately 30 people mostly elderly (2 children). It has been an annual event by the community since the building of the Ochakko community center and every year we have attended as participants.

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The event itself was simply an omochi making event but was a great opportunity to talk to locals about their experiences over the past 4 years. It was good to sit down and talk and get a frank, realistic picture of life post-tsunami. In the words of one elderly gentleman, “Nobody is ever ready for something like that to happen in their lifetime, and I was alive during the War”.

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It was quite encouraging that these people were in high spirits despite what hardships they had gone through. It was clear that they appreciated that we still took the time to visit even four years after the event where a lot of Japan has forgotten about them. It was a rewarding day and I look forward to going up again when I can.

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