Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Visiting Miyakoshi and Taro


April 11th

Taro was notorious for its 10 meter-high sea-wall, built after the town was hit successively by tsunamis in 1896 and 1933. According to our friend who took us around, everyone was taught in school what to do in the case of a tsunami, and the ancient wisdom about where it was safe to build houses, etc. Taro was a city known to be well-prepared for a tsunami.
This is a photo from before the tsunami--all of the houses in view are nothing but piles of garbage now. Reporters assert that the seawall actually killed more people, trapping the water inside a kind of "bowl" that was formed between the wall and the surrounding mountains.
(Here is another photo of the houses built near the tsunami-wall. Again, all no longer standing.)

This sign means that the owner has cleared this house to be torn down. These markings were everywhere on pieces of "house" that were barely standing, amidst piles of buildings that didn't hold together as well.

The men standing behind me were from the Japanese self-defense force. They were poking their long poles into piles of rubble looking for bodies. There were little neat piles of distinctive items in different places on the seawall--maybe to mark places where they were found, or the bodies that they were found near, to help in the identification process.

This is our team (minus Gene, taking the picture) plus Hatakeyama-san, our friend whose hometown is Miyakoshi, and who was visiting to help his parents, as their store and house were flooded with mud on the first floor. He took us around to the places we visited, and we wouldn't have made it very far without him. Thank you, Hatakeyama-san!

This girl was with her grandparents. She came up to us to tell us that her birthday was "the day after tomorrow," which happened to also be Gene's birthday. Her grandparents were really happy, talking about what good fortune it was that we had met.

Horii-san and the volunteers putting the dolls into little gift bags.

The best part about this last leg of the trip was that we our friends Isamu and Yuki ( were able to come back up to join forces with us, driving all the way up to Morioka from Chiba prefecture in the middle of the night. So awesome, and it made a big difference for the kids.

This is our van, which, although you can't tell by the picture, is mucked out from our travels through the dust trails that wound through the tsunami rubble.

We got to sing outside in the frigid Iwate temperature at another main evacuation center in Taro.


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