Japan Diaries 4: Weekend 35

Weekend 35: July 2-3, 2022

Day 243: July 2, 2022

Saturday - Kyodo Gakusha Volunteer Work Day 1

It's my 35th weekend here in Japan as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) under the JET Programme. For this weekend I will be a full-time cultural ambassador as I'm invited by Adachi-san and Yoshida-san who are my friends from the Rumoi English Chat Club. They asked me if I wanted to volunteer at the Kyodo Gakusha in Neiraku in the town of Obira. When I heard that I'd be doing some meat packing and farming of course I had to say yes. 

These are probably the cheapest watermelons that I have seen here in Japan

Kitkat Chocolate Orange

My wife and I made buko pandan

Since Adachi-san will pick me up at 1PM, I got the chance to help my wife make her sought-after buko pandan dessert. I also accompanied her to the bank and to COOP to buy groceries. Today, I got to buy a new KitKat flavor which is the KitKat Chocolate Orange. So far, it's the 14th flavor that I have bought and tried here in Japan.

Noboru-san and I are heading to Obira to volunteer at Neiraku Kyodo Gakusha

Time to work...

Quality Inspector + sausage packer for the day

I was the one who packed all of these

Adachi-san picked me up right on schedule and we drove directly to the meat processing center of the Neiraku Kyodo Gakusha. After changing clothes and sanitizing, we joined Yoshida-san and the other members of the Kyodogakusha in preparing and packing sausages. Due to the nature of the work, I didn't take photos. Regardless, I'm happy I didn't as I was also too focused on what I was doing. Work ended at 3:30PM. Overall, it was a fun and memorable experience. 

From there, we drove to the dormitory / main building of the Neiraku Kyodo Gakusha. There, I met the other members of the non-profit organization and I was also given my own room. 

Driving to Tappu, Obira

天塩鉱業所 ホッパー跡
We passed by the Teshio Mining Site Hopper Remains (天塩鉱業所 ホッパー跡) along the way

Mini golf course along Route 126

I was told that dinner was still at 6PM so Noboru-san and I went on a little drive to the nearly abandoned community of Tappu. He showed me where his former Forestry Office once stood 20 years ago. 

Obira Dam with Noboru-san

We then went to the mini-golf course at the foot of Mt. Tengu before going to Obira Dam.  Noboru-san served as my tour guide as he tried to explain everything to me. The view from the dam was fantastic. Sadly, the Obira Dam Observatory which doubles as a museum was closed when we visited. 

Dinner with the members of Neiraku Kyodo Gakusha

Here's my dinner...

+ fresh octopus

...and jingisukan meat with cheese

Noboru-san and I got back to Kyodogakusha just in time for dinner. After dinner, Noboru-san, Yoshida-san, and I had our nomikai (drinking party) until 9PM. 

Day 244: July 3, 2022

Sunday - Kyodo Gakusha Volunteer Day 2

Good morning everyone! It's my 2nd day as a volunteer here in Neiraku Kyodo Gakusha. It's a dark foggy morning today and it looks like it's going to rain but according to the weather forecast, it's going to be a hot and sunny day today.

Neiraku Kyodo Gakusha Day 2

It's a cold foggy morning

True enough, the sun did rise and in a way, I wished that it would have been better if it remained foggy the whole day as we'd be working on the farm after breakfast. 

Inside Neiraku Kyodo Gakusha

Morning prayer with the members of Neiraku Kyodo Gakusha

Here's my breakfast...

Speaking of breakfast, just like last night, the food was amazing. I know that most, if not all of the ingredients used in the dishes were from the farm. I love the hot fresh milk and the sausages. 

Kyodo Gakusha
I was toured inside the piggery

At 8:50 AM, we sang the morning praise song before heading out to do our farm work. I accompanied Yoshida-san and he showed me to the greenhouse and the piggery. He explained in great detail how piggery works and the strict rules that they have to follow. 

I helped on the farm...

I removed weeds and helped make a trellis

After that, we headed to the garden area where I first removed weeds by hand and then with the gas-powered trimmer. Once done, I helped Yoshida-san tie the bamboo vine support together to make a trellis. 

Lunchtime! Itadakimasu

A gift from the commune

When we got back after work, it was already lunchtime. I was served a nice warm delicious butadon. Before going home, Noboru-san and I were given some meat and eggs to bring home as gifts. 

Drive back home.

At home, my family and I just binge-watched the 3rd season of Umbrella Academy before calling it a day. 

Overall, it was a weekend well spent. It was my first time doing volunteer work on a farm. In a way, I fell in love with it and it made me more confident to push for my dream of owning and managing a farm after I retire. 

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