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Japan, Project Tohoku, volunteering

Refreshed and Mentally Healthy

Back from an incredibly expensive but oh-so-relaxing few days in Tokyo. The great thing about this project is the number of generous ex-pats who offer their spare rooms and empty apartments to staff and volunteers, either as a layover on the way to and from the airport, or for our mandatory mental health breaks. As I’ve said living in a disaster zone can be intense and if you don’t get away every now and again it can get overwhelming. At All Hands three nights away from base every 30 days is compulsory to stop people burning out without realising it. People get so caught up in the work that often they don’t even notice that they just need some rest, some alone time.

After running just a touch over the one month mark Neil and I headed south on an overnight bus, leaving Sakari at about 9.30pm and getting in to the capital before seven the next morning. It was pretty comfortable and the seats reclined a good way although I was expecting a bit more luxury considering the £115 price tag. Like perhaps a foot massage and a complimentary meal or two. Nope. Not even a packet of crisps or a bottle of water. As you can see public transport in Japan is phenomenally expensive so it’s a good job we have friends in high places to loan us free places to stay or we’d probably be on the streets once a month!

We arrived bright and early, staggered into McDonald’s, ate a McGriddle – more about this in a mo – found our apartment and slept the day away. Bliss.

Back to the McGriddle. If there’s one thing Americans know its how to do sweet and savoury in one deliciously gluttonous, artery-clogging moment. The McGriddle is king of my new favourite food group. Not content with the regular sausage-and-egg-in-an-English-muffin offered in England someone when one better and swapped the muffin for pancakes, complete with a layer of syrup inside, like the jam in a doughnut. Sounds gross. Tastes like heaven. And it doesn’t come with the calories on the wrapper like at home so I guess that means there aren’t any in it. Bonus.

The rest of the break continued in the same vein with lots of sleeping, lazing, daydreaming, eating, napping, casual wandering, more eating, more sleeping, a bit of reading, hot bath-ing and tv watching and then back to the sleeping. Joined on the last day and night by Nick and Jess we thought we might be interrupted in our busy schedule but no, the four of us simply got down to all of the above but with gossiping added in too!


About Jess UK

Fell in love with the crazy, inspiring, all-or-nothing world of disaster response and the wonderfully ridiculous, hard-working people who are drawn to it. Currently working in the Philippines as part of the recovery efforts after Typhoon Washi/Sendong! Want to know more? Check out disasterchasers.wordpress.com.


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