Tuesday, June 10, 2014

GakuPuro 7: Learning and Rotary Presentation

Continuing on to my mega throwback posts on the Fukushima, Japan trip back in 2012 °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖° Can't wait to finish them all so I can talk about my recent trip! So after all the farming and nature appreciation, we headed back to Fukushima University (i think) to learn a little more on the next step when it comes to processing food in Fukushima after the March 2011 disaster. 

Fishermen apparently don't fish anymore from the waters, that's understandable but agriculture...got a little tricky. This is because each individual area within a farm records different radiation levels so it's hard to just generalize that all fruits and vegetables in Fukushima are harmful. Farmers have to protect their little source of income too so the experts got together to come up with a system in order for the farmers to continue selling their produce. Plus, Fukushima fields produce a significant amount of rice to supply the country's demands so it's a big loss if everything is simply ruled out as harmful. Their solution to this problem? Properly test out EVERYTHING for radiation before it gets out into the market for sale. Almost everyone there has a home kit to measure radiation levels but for a more thorough measurement, all food stuff has to be sent to this centre where the experts will test them out to ensure safety for sale and consumption

The machines look like these on the left!

The professor tested out a bowl of uncooked rice as he explained the science behind it.

I think the subject matter was a tad too scientific so my translator wasn't able to translate the bulk of the session to me, am a little blur on how it works to be honest. But I was told that the people are concerned with the amount of time needed to analyze for radiation, the stuff won't be as fresh anymore once the process is done and sometimes has to be thrown away. On top of that, the Japanese consumers outside of Fukushima are still immensely wary of the safety of made-in-Fukushima products, especially food stuff. Despite the high standards of radiation assessment prior to the export, people are still not buying it. "Harmful rumours" is just another phrase used in high rotation throughout this experience, to illustrate some major issues the locals have to deal with everyday. After all that heavy physical and mental exercises, it was (finally) food time yay first we made some onigiri (rice balls) with rice grown in Fukushima. So fresh and good!

No photo of that because well, hands were busy hahaha only photo of proper nom time!

Lunch was courtersy of a group of Fukushima local moms. 

The small community started a bento campaign called the "Kachan no Chikara Project" (Power of Moms Project) to raise awareness on food safety in Fukushima and make the best use of the fresh, natural produce found at their own farms. The bento (as pictured below) consisted of fried rice with mushrooms and seaweed, boiled vegetables, potato stew, tamagoyaki, pickled seaweed, croquette, fishcake and pickles. Yums! 

After lunch, the learning sessions continued with a talk by the founder of  "Kachan no Chikara Project". Mind, it was immediately after a delicious, heavy lunch and you know what usually happens after that. Yeah, everybody got super sleepy hahahaha a few were openly taking their forty winks (or more) and I could barely keep my eyes open as well. The atmosphere was incredible quiet and I felt quite bad for the speaker lah to be honest but totally couldn't help it!(  。-_-  。) 

A most welcomed break. Some got up to stretch, some continued their nap, some got interviewed for tv hehe

After that, we got back to our cribs and freshened up for a fancy dinner at a hotel!

The entire program was actually organized by Fukushima University in partnership with the Minamisouma Rotary Club. This night, all the main members of the Minamisouma Rotary Club were there to hear the participants out on what we've learned so far and to speak on their reasons in sponsoring the entire program. The president took the stage and talked about how their intentions was not mislead us into believing something that's untrue. Fukushima is a complicated subject and there are many misguided assumptions on the situation, even until today. They simply wanted to let us into the lives of the locals and see from a first-hand perspective the true situation of their everyday lives. Any conclusion, positive or negative, that we formed at the end of the program, they are open to listen and accept it. As long as we take home with us the experience and learned new things, then the program will be considered a success in their heart. My respect for them grew tenfold after that little talk.

We were then split up into groups to summarize the entire experience so far.

Each group were hosted by a few organising committee members as they guided us into different topics to touch on.

Thanks for the English, guys hahahah the use of post-its still going strong.

After that, each team sent out representatives to talk about their opinions formed after the experiences.

About five to eight groups did the presentation and after that, it was dinnertime! Possibly the most luxurious meal throughout the entire trip hahahah no complains, it was a great meal and hey, free flow alcohol (〃▽〃) Everyone had such a good time, just enjoying the food, the great company in such a relaxing, casual atmosphere. I got so excited with Ribon and we went around checking out what others were doing, grabbing servings of her favourite shochu, chatting with the Club members, and taking photographs as we drink with everyone! 

Haruko, my host dad (though I didn't know yet at that time), and Ribon ♡ 


Little bits and pieces of yums

Fresh tenpura, fried on the spot omg ate so much ok! 

Cute little sweet treats *hoards


Clearly I went back many, many times for this. Especially the strawberries mmm! After the wonderful dinner treat, the foreign participants (only all three of us hahahaha) were arranged to spend the night with a host family. The families were actually members of the Minamisouma Rotary Club, so no strangers there haha more on that in the next post! Bye!

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