Shore-side village in Iwaki, Fukushima reduced to foundations by the tsunami. Is the flower for the previous inhabitants, or for us visitors?
"We want you to come and see."
That's what one of my ryokan association colleagues from Tohoku (northeastern Japan) told me about the aftermath of the March 11th and following triple disaster. It's one thing to see images of the destruction on TV, but it's important to see it personally with your own eyes. The earthquake and tsunami were once-in-a-100 (1000?) years demonstration of the power of nature.
So putting aside my concerns about possibly being inconsiderate to the people there who suffered so much, on this trip to Fukushima I made it one of my goals to see the tsunami area and show it to our kids.
After leaving the Hawaiians Resort, we drove down to Onahama, Iwaki City's main port. The seafood market Ra Ra Myu had been restored to the point that you wouldn't think anything had taken place here. But 15 minutes after the earthquake, the market was inundated with a 2-meter wave. I will never forget the smiles of the the Darvish-look-alike fishmonger and his coworkers. "Our port's fishing ships can't work these waters due to the 100-km exclusion zone around the nuclear plant. But we get in fish from all over the world," they said as they carried on business as usual. When I mentioned I wanted to buy something to help support them, they said, "If you're headed straight back home, that would be great. But your travelling, so don't worry about it." I was touched by their generosity.
Ra-Ra's 2nd floor had a display depicting living conditions in the evacuation centers. That was tough to take in. The center's pleasure boat rides wouldn't start operating until late April, so on the advice of the info center we drove up the coast to the village that had been below the Shioyazaki Lighthouse.
As you can see in the picture, the village has been reduced to just the foundations of the buildings that had been there before the tsunami struck.
"We want you to come and see." This is what she had been talking about.
Later, we drove to a sushi shop, Tomoe, that a passerby had introduced us to. The sushi master was just finishing up a massive "funa-mori" sushi platter for some banquet nearby, but he and his wife kindly served us delictable sushi. "It's hard as a sushi chef to have to acquire fish from outside the 100-km zone." But by the looks of it, his business is still thriving.
"We want you to come and see." This is it, too.