Volunteering Photo Story


1. Arrived at the volunteer centre just after 8am. Here we’re grouped and shuttled over to the disaster zone.


2. The devastation is clear.


3. For those who’ve never been to Japan, much of the suburbs, including our locality, are built tucked into the mountainsides making them vulnerable in heavy rain.


4. The rail line at the foot of the mountain has recently re-opened but the mud is still visible.


5. The mud slid down at a few hundred km/hr…


6. …taking everything in its path.


7. A 93 yr old lady lived here, only using the ground floor, including to sleep (the mudslide hit at 4:30am). Amazingly, she survived and after climbing upstairs and was helped out by her neighbours.


8. Our team helped clear the house to the left today. The mud had covered the whole of the first (ground) floor, including the entrance roof.


9. Bags of mud everywhere and, despite a week of sunshine, still water running down the hillside.


10. The house to the left shows where rescuers smashed the front door to get in.


11. This was the house our team volunteered at today. There were no other houses between it and the mudslide but incredibly it stood the force. Mud covered up to the first (ground) floor and the family of 5 escaped via the upper floor windows.


12. Mud had come up almost to the ceiling but previous teams of volunteers have cleaned it out and washed the walls. The floorboards and tatami mats have been taken up in some rooms to dry out.


13. I was the only woman in my team of 12, although women made up about a third of the volunteers.The other 2 ladies here are the home owner and her niece who arrived late in the day. Several of our team had come all the way from Shiga-ken – about 300km.


14. The Self Defense Force were seen everywhere.


15. Post volunteering boot wash.


16. Typically efficient and organised – the post-volunteer point includes hand wash, toilets and gargle facilities.

Pictures and captions by Lorna Nakashima, long-term Hiroshima resident.

First time volunteers should have a look at this English Volunteering Handbook. Or see a list of the pages of the English Handbook for Landslide Disaster Volunteering here on Inbound Ambassador.


Writing about Hiroshima for over twenty years. Co-founded GetHiroshima in 1999 and founded the sustainability-focused InboundAmbassador business in 2019. Monthly CleanUp and Seeking Sustainability event organizer, guide workshop facilitator, online content creator and tourism destination consultant. Passionate about promoting solutions in Japan for people and the planet.