I don’t remember if the sun had always risen this early in Japan, but that’s probably because I had never been up before 6:00 before. My internship day starts at 6:30 most days of the week and ends at 21:00 or later, leaving little time for me to do anything other than sleep (so my apologies for the late blog post). At Moriumius, I’m finding my location to be a little more East-wards than the Kanto living that I’m more used to, but I think that it’s an interesting place, and it’s my first experience of Japanese work culture, so I can only say that it’s all just very new to me.
My daily work usually consists of moving heavy things around, washing dishes, cleaning rooms and floors, and then doing a variety of camp-work activities like maintaining the furnace which heats up the Japanese-style baths, cutting wood, tending the goats and the pigs, and tending to the small (to-be) garden areas. Summer vacation in Japan doesn’t start until late July to August, so most of the guests at Moriumius are actually private or corporate-affiliated (our current guests are from a company that’s running a part of their training program here). At the moment, it’s really something like a retreat for these adults. For the employee trainees, we’re running a sort of integrated field trip for them, teaching about the region (here in Ogatsu was where the 3/11 tsunami hit particularly hard, devastating the area) and putting them on things like firewood-fetching tasks.
There are sometimes when we get school children though, and that’s always a fun time. The vibe changes to one of a summery camp and I get to even participate and help out with the activities planned for the children. We’ve done things like pulling up sea urchins from nets, ride out to pull up farm-raised scallops and hoya from the sea, chop down trees, start fires to cook rice – all of those nice camp-time activities that you might expect to do in the woods near the Japanese sea.
I quite like the work that we do with children more, as it was the main reason I decided to intern at this program, but the work here is all around rewarding. The staff is fun to talk to and functions like a family, which is great for the long hours. The seafood is fresh and the meals are delicious (we get to sit in and eat fancy food alongside the guests). The physical labor tires me in a good way and I’m learning a lot of practical skills with all of the fast-paced kitchen-work and cleaning. When I sit in with the guests for the talks given by people from the region, I learn about the history of the region and what the 3/11 disaster meant for the residents of Tohoku – this was something I did want to learn more about when I came here. All in all, I’m having a wonderful experience. The last time I was in Japan for such a long period of time was in high school when I lived in Saitama as an exchange student for a year. Now, I am somewhere else. But I am glad to be back living in a place that is in so many ways different yet still so warmly familiar.