I spent my last 3 days in Japan staying with a friend from home who had moved to Iwate to teach. She had some friends who lived along the coast, they hadn’t been there when the Tsunami hit but they told me some of their experiences from when they first moved out there.
A lot of the destruction had been cleared by then, it was now lining the roads contained in black bin liners. They said how the whole town smelt of rotting fish and how there was another Tsunami alert where one them got stuck in an evacuation to higher ground.
Their students had obviously been affected, having lost family members to the disaster. One of them handed in an essay about how she always remembers to say ‘thank you’ to people after not saying it to her Mum the last time she saw her. She wrote how she felt bad she had been so horrible to her and that she didn’t even say anything nice the last time they spoke. Another guy remembered a conversation he had with his co-worker who had told him he had nothing left because the Tsunami took his two children and his wife, just casually over the photocopier like it was normal conversation.
I couldn’t understand how they could work/live in a place that was so sad. They said they were used to it now, which I suppose you would be. You’d have to be. They were staying in the temporary housing which we also stayed in for the night. The houses weren’t built to last because they know it will happen again but everyone still carried on with normal life whilst slowly rebuilding their town. It was so interesting but devastating, having never seen the destruction left by a natural disaster anywhere other than in the media, being there was something I’ll never forget.