Yamada-machi is located on the northeast coast of Japan, about 150 miles north of Fukushima and about 50 miles south of Morioka. On the coast it is situated about 20 miles distance from Kamaishi in the north (where Toshiaki and I first met) and Miyako in the south. The railway line from these two places are now completely destroyed therefore to get to Yamada we depend on a relative, usually my sister-in-law, Kazuko and husband Satoshi to pick us up in either Kamaishi or Miyako or buses are now starting to run on a regular basis.
The coastal area along the region is curvy and jagged , holds beautiful coastlines sunrise vistas, and has many inlets, harbors, peninsulas and islands.
Yamada-machi is believed to have had people living in the village up to 6500 years ago. The first mention of the village in written material was in 715. In 1643 a Dutch shipped named Breskans arrived in Yamada bay and landed on “Oshima” island to seek new supplies. Ten crew members were arrested and sent to court in Edo (Tokyo). Since then Yamada’s relationship with the Netherlands has been strong, even though it started out rocky (no pun intended). The island of “Oshima” has since been named Orando-jima (Dutch island). Zeist, in the Netherlands is Yamada’s sister city. We are hoping to make Las Vegas Yamada’s sister city (any ideas? connections? help? suggestions? all greatly appreciated)
Yamada has experienced three prior tsunami’s before March 11, 2011. One in 1896 which, killed 2950 people and injured 1370 in the region. Another one occurred in 1933 with less casualties but lots of building damage (18 killed and 12 injured). And then the tsunami that gets the “traveled the furthest” award was in 1960, as a result of the Chilean earthquake. It also caused damage, yet no recorded casualties. The size and devastation caused by March 11, 2011 is beyond comparison.
As of the early 2000′s, Yamada has a population of around 20,000 people. After the disaster in March, 1882 people are homeless, with another 167 unable to feed themselves. There are 670 reported dead, 148 still not found, and another 115 unidentified.
Fortunately, the entire town was not effected due to higher elevation levels. The city hall, schools and some houses were untouched. We were fortunate that Toshiaki’s parents and brothers homes were on high elevation. Our gratitude is what has spurred this Renew Yamada.