tsunami

It seems almost a lifetime ago now, when I was working in Fukushima in a regular job when mother nature rudely interrupted my course in life and set me in a new direction. Maybe I should have taken advantage of living more because a lot of people, over 15,000 lost their life within close proximity of me on the same day. One day a regular Japanese landscape, with homes, schools, shops, gas stations, and the like. The next: acres of land swept away with the water.

While I briefly saw the damage a year ago, I was being driven around my my (then) girlfriends parents so didn’t really get to take any decent photos or follow my own path. This year however, I retuned in Sendai and rented a car for the day to have a look at the damage and see what progress has been made. Please note, most of these photos were taken off the coast of Miyagi prefecture not Fukushima, which is a bit more north, but still hit just as bad.

tsunami-concrete-sign-photo

The basic tsunami defence system, and an evacuation sign

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A boat where a building used to be

sea-defence-japan-photo

This shows the new sea defences and the old swept landcape

Tsunami-damage-japan

Manhole shows previous land level

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The old entrance to someones house

tsunami damage of swept houses in japan

Former houses

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I guess these were found during the clean up

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The only house remaining in acres

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Inside another single building which stood up among all others

As you can see, it has mostly been cleaned up now, but no reconstruction can be seen anywhere. New defence barriers are in place, but other than that nothing. The waste has just been moved elsewhere. Japan is in a difficult situation on what to do here. I mean, who would want to live here knowing what happened? The amount of people that died. For a country without much flat land to build on, it’s quite a dilemma. I have no before photos so I can’t directly compare, but it seems like this area will remain abandoned for now.

People argue from 2 perspectives – one is to leave it and keep it as a reminder to how powerful mother nature is. The other is to build over it and show strength in community and the ability to move on. Pretty much everyone wanted it all cleared up though, which is seems like it has been now. Of course there is still a lot of people who no longer have jobs or a place to live which they earnt themselves. I am unaware of the figures of people still living in shelters/halls but I don’t think it is that great now.

Finally I’d like to end this post on a photo of the outside of the building I took a photo from inside above. It is one of the few new things in this area. A sakura (cherry blossom) tree. Because this was one of the few remaining buildings standing in the area, it only seems appropriate to use it as a symbol of hope. There is nothing more Japanese than sakura so it seemed appropriate to plant it next to this building. It hasn’t grown yet, let alone bloomed (cherry blossom only blooms once a year and for a week) but hopefully it will lead this area on to new beginnings.

Hope Sakura tree next to tsunami victim building

Sakura tree being grown next to surviving building

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It was a bit like most other earthquakes at first. You stop whatever you’re doing under the sensation of the earth moving, realise what’s going on, and just wait. Earthquakes are not uncommon in Japan, much like many other areas of the world. They soon become natural, albeit a bit bothersome.

Japanese earthquake report

There are usually lots of these

I was sat at the desk on reception at British Hills, a British themed hotel in the mountains of Fukushima, Japan. As guests arrived on the courtesy bus around 14:40 Japan time, I sat them down and began my usual spiel about the attractions available and hope they would have a nice time, etc. The earth started moving as it sometimes does. Starting with a little shake, there was nothing to worry about seemingly.

However, the shaking continued for a further 15 seconds or so, getting stronger in intensity  Read the rest! \(^u^)/ →

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Everyone knows about the Great Tohoku Earthquake which hit Japan on March 11th 2011, I mentioned the tohoku earthquake previously as I was based in Fukushima so certainly felt the 9.0 shock (was previously a 8.9 but upgraded after analysis). 5 months later, a lot of damage repair and things are mostly back to normal for the majority of Japan.

Of course Sendai, the worst hit city still has issues, and I was keen to visit to see how it fared 5 months later. I was a bit surprised when I arrived via bus to see this site:

Sendai sun rise

A normal city

AER Plaza Sendai Japan

Shopping Mall in Sendai

That’s right. Like every other city in Japan. Sendai has been repaired and getting on as per normal. A few less visitors naturally, but everything functioning. Apart from the posters supporting the people and area’s effected, you wouldn’t be able to tell what happened here 5 months previous.

However out of the city (you’ll need a car, trains aren’t running to these areas) the effects are still very much there. Buildings destroyed, debris everywhere, and long queues for food at the limited places that stock now. The roads seem to mostly be cleaned up, so people can get around main areas (just not all residential areas).

There are many areas of piled up debris where things have been cleared. But it does beg the question: where does the mess go afterwards? It’s virtually unrecoverable, a mixture of concrete, plastics, ground, metals and whatever was in the sea at the time makes it difficult to recycle – this is pure waste that needs to be disposed of.

But progress seems to have stopped in terms of clear up. I didn’t see many people working to clear the area I passed through. Again though in these sorts of things, I think photos explain better than my words ever can:

Sendai factory after tsunami

Factory has significant damage but still standing

Sendai earthquake damage

A pile of debris

Destroyed Shell garage

Read the rest! \(^u^)/ →

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