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Activity Reports

Volunteer Carpenters at the Onagawa Container Village Shopping Centre

February 4, 2012

In Washinokamihama, Onagawa, volunteers are working on full-scale carpentry. This is the “Onagawa Container Village Shopping Centre,” with eight tents or containers lined up. The volunteers are working to build a wooden deck.

Onagawa, Ojika, is next to Ishinomaki. The tsunami wiped away almost all the approximately 180 stores in the six shopping districts in town. Eight shops responded to the call from the Chamber of Commerce calling for support to construct shops even as citizens are living in temporary housing or evacuation centers.

Organizations such as the NGO “Association for Aid and Relief Japan” provided containers for support, and the Onagawa Container Village Shopping Centre opened in July 2011. Even though it is a temporary shopping street, it greatly supports the lives and employment of the local people. To deal with the winter cold and expansion of shops, it was decided to build a firm wooden deck.

At first, people were concerned that such work would require a professional construction firm.

However, in the course of harsh living after an earthquake disaster, there was an outflow of working generations in the coastal areas. The number of job vacancies exceeds that of job hunters there as young people seek elsewhere. No matter how long you wait, the reality was that your turn would not come.

In that circumstances, Peace Boat volunteers took on this task. However the work involves exact and highly technical skills, based on plans, requiring particular experience that not just anyone can do.

Volunteer leader of the project Umano Makoto has extensive training and experience in carpentry, having worked on the machinery, materials, wiring, equipment and maintainance onboard Peace Boat. As volunteer leader he was also in charge of the project to set fly screens on windows at evacuation centres. A specialised volunteer group was formed, including professional carpenter Ito Masaya and wood deck worker Nagayama Yasuharu. The extensive network of volunteer linked to Peace Boat enabled us to find such highly experienced and talented people to deal with such special needs.

This project was launched in December 2011. After the wooden frame and base, were finished, other experienced volunteers in the local area joined and the wooden deck was completed in three weeks.

Volunteers participating for the first time first went through training learning how to use equipment such as the electric saw, impact and other electric tools.

Installing a slope. Careful consideration is important.

Varnishing in order  not to forget the design and style of the deck. Members of NPO “On The Road” also joined this stage.

With people from the container shopping centre.
And that is how the wooden deck was finished, taking three weeks from when the project was fully launched.
Anyone is welcome to visit the Onagawa Container Village Shopping Centre, and see the wooden deck for yourself while supporting local shops.

Peace Boat thanked the volunteer carpenters after the project was completed – their response, however, was “Shall we do the wall and roof  next?”

It seems like their work will still continue – thank you and we hope many more people can come and join!