We arrived in Iwate on the three month anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. At 2:46 in the afternoon Japan observed a period of silence to respectfully acknowledge those whose lives were lost. Although three months have passed, many towns are still left “as is,” either awaiting workers and equipment to remove the debris or the signal of the end of the search for bodies. Yamada reported nearly 400 dead and close to 300 still missing with around 3000 homeless. Yamada’s post-tsunami population was 20,000.
We spent the first night in Morioka where Toshiaki reunited with his oldest brother Isao and his family. To get there the bullet train passed through the cities of Fukushima and Sendai. Both cities and train stations where quite a distance away from the coast so except for scattered damaged roofs marked with blue vinyl covering and stones to mark where repair was in progress, remnants of the disaster were hard to spot.
The Yamada train line along the coast is unrepairable in many parts. We took a bus to the coast where we were meet by Toshiaki’s second eldest brother Satoshi and our sweet sister-in-law Kazuko. They proceeded to take us on a tour of the coastal towns.
Our visit to many coastal towns and finally Yamada was almost indescribable. I thought Toshiaki and I were both prepared for the devastation we were to see, but I guess there is no way for that kind of preparation. Yamada as well as the other coastal towns we visited, looked like the aftermath of war. Despite the horrific visuals of the material destruction and the sadness at the loss of lives, there were still signs of hope and perseverance.
I have stories, experiences, information and pictures to share. I will try to portray what we saw and learned in future posts.