Friday, May 13, 2011

Tohoku, Japan 9

 Onagawa   March 31,2011

This gentleman was talking to two other men, maybe talking about business.
Before I took this shot he said to me " I owned ten facilities in this town,
fish processing plant, some office buildings, some warehouses, and some
apartment buildings. Now they are all gone."
Then he laughed. He laughed loud.
From his laugh,I felt resignation that he can't do anything to prevent that,
 and his intention not to give up.

Behind them, there were their houses. The couple used to live right behind them, the gentleman on right used to live next door and he lost all his families by tsunami....
They come here to look for remaining stuffs from their houses.

A Japanese Self Defense Force officer.

A platoon of the Self Defense Forces. I tried to talk to one of them,
I said "Are you cleaning the area?" He never reply.
Then I said " Are you trying to search for something" Then he just nodded his head.
They were searching for bodies, and he was not being rude to me, he was being serious to me. 

It's a graveyard on a hill about 15 meter above sea level. 

They are visiting their auntie's grave.

There are a shelter near by and they are on their way to go back.

This gentleman did not want his face on a photo he said because he is a politician and a little bit famous, sometimes he goes on a TV news.
He travels around the disaster stricken area and report what he sees to the government.
He said he will write something down so take a picture of that instead of his face.
The writing says

"This great earthquake is the first time in millennium. Japanese people do not give up and trying so hard to reconstruct.
              April 1,2011 a brave man with no name." 

I was actually walking on this road about 2 hours before, now it's under water because of high tide.
They say the costline of Tohoku area , which is about 500 kilometers long, fell in about  2 feet overall the coastline.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tohoku, Japan 8

 Onagawa   March 31, 2011

 I entered Onagawa in the morning of March 31 2011.

Onagawa is a small town located just about a mile east from Ishinomaki City, the town is sandwiched between a bay and mauntains
Although Onagawa and Ishinomaki City are right next to each other, situation there are totally different.

 When I first saw the town, I was speechless..... whole town was just gone, I could not even image how the town looked like.

 There is a good size hospital on top of a hill in the center of the town, now it's a shelter for the victims, I went there first to take a look at the town from higher ground.

A view from top of the hill.

This man was working to control traffic at parking lot of the hospital. He is a local here in Onagawa. After he heard the news that tsunami is coming, he fled to here by driving his car. The hill is about 55 feet higher than sea level so he thought he is going to be ok there but he was wrong. The water came over the hill top so he had to run to second floor of the hospital.
He said he saw everything from the top.
By the time, the parking lot was packed by cars and all washed away, people were still there in some of the cars. You can see some concrete buildings in the back, he said he saw a lot of people on roof top evacuating and after the tsunami they were all gone.....

She was walking with heavy bags in middle of nowhere, well this place used be lots of houses and stores, so I asked where she is going. She said she is on her way back from her relative's house to a shelter. She's got some clothe and stuffs she needs from her relative.

They are a troop from India called NDRF. They said they are not military forces, they are specialized for rescue missions. 

The captain of NDRF.
When I was taking this photo, there were about 10 NDRF personnels working behind me on top of rubbles, one of them yelled that they found a human body underneath.  

In front of his shop, trying to clean up. He has to work in morning time because this area sank 3 feet by the earthquake, will covered by water when high tide. 

Inside of the shop. The shop used be a dealer/maintenance for farm machines. 

Salvaging car and debris from seabed. 

He said the salvage ship is from Ishinomaki. They have to clean up the seabed so that more bigger ships can come in and out to transport materials.

They evacuated to Sendai City, about 50 miles from Onagawa, came back to town 3 weeks after.
They were grieving that they can not recall how the town was like from it is now after tsunami.

A husband and a wife. Behind them was where the wife's parents' house used to be. Parents are not found yet after 3 weeks.
They come here every day to search for parents' bodies and anything remains from the house for keepsake.
Thay said chances are low to find parents' body near  here because they know bodies can travel tens of miles by water flow.
They were shedding tears while they were talking about their stories. Then when I asked for a photo, they smiled at my camera to show they are going to be alright.   

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Tohoku, Japan 7

Ishinomaki City  March 30, 2011

Random pictures in Ishinomaki.

At Minato Elementary School. Used as a shelter now. It's a Teruterubouzu doll. People hang it to wish for a sunny day.

A mountain of canned foods. There was a cannery by the ocean and after the tsunami you could find those canned food anywhere in town. 

Making phone calls. Many people were not be able to use their cell phone because they had no way to charge the batteries.  

He is off to see a doctor. He said there was a clinic near by but now he has to ride a bike for 40min to get to a hospital.
He said he lost all his family by the tsunami.

In a buddhist temple.

He came to get sea water. I asked him sea water for what, he said to wash dishes and stuff.
They only have enough fresh water to drink.

cleaning up his house. but half of the house was just destroyed.

U.S. Military is giving a big help for Japan.
Operation "Tomodachi"

They were watching the US Military working to help them, kept saying "they are sooo cool!!"
they said they are cousins.

Had fun with kids. They are all so friendly.

They showed me their new Pokemon cards proudly.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tohoku, Japan 6

Ishinomaki City      March 30, 2011

   This time I would like to talk about this couple. 

On the day I was with Mr. Takahashi, the donkey guy, we had a little time to spare before we go to next shelter so he decide to drive around the town to take me to places I have not been yet.
 We found a destroyed hardware store like a Home Depot and we went inside.
The store floor was completely wiped out covered by mud and debris.  
The building was a story building and there was parking lot on the roof top.
We found stairs to parking lot, went up stairs, and found a van in the parking lot.
We were going back and forth in parking lot to see if there is anything,
then suddenly the van's door slid open and a lady said "Are you looking for someone?"
We were bit surprised because we thought we were alone.
There are a gentleman too and they are husband and wife. I tried to ask some question to them then they started talk their stories.

They are owners of the inn and the husband is also a fisherman.
When  the earthquake struck they heard the siren of tsunami warning so they drove the van to evacuate to this roof top, looked down on the town waiting for tsunami to come hoping not to come of cause, then they found a mother and her little daughter calling for help on second floor of a house. By the time they saw tsunami was coming.
The husband jumped out the hardware store to get them out the house and tried to take them to the hardware store.
He succeeded to rescue the mother and child but he failed to rescue himself.....
The wife actually saw the husband caught by wave and dragged away.
" You know my nickname?" the husband said "people call me Kappa( a legendary monster known for good swimmer) I'm a very good swimmer. But I've learned a lesson that people are helpless in the water flow like that."
He almost got drowned but luckily he found a car tire floating and he clung on to that for his life.
He was dragged for over a half a mile and landed on an apartment building. 
He could not move his body because of hypothermia.

The wife said she was ready to admit that the husband might be gone because there were no sign from him for a day and a half.
But he was OK! He came back to the roof top parking lot then they embrace each other firmly.
The husband said, to get out of  hypothermic condition he used his own urine to warm up his body.
That was a method he was told by his grandfather long time ago.

 Now they are staying in a van during a day and they go to the shelter at night to get food and water.
 They said " There are not only bad things about tsunami. Fish breeding was a big industry in this Ishinomaki City and the Environmental Group was pointing out that the industry is polluting the sea by fish food and feces, it became a big problem in Ishinomaki.
But the Tsunami wiped everything away now the water and seabed is very clean.
More fish will come back eventually, Ishinomaki will be better fishing ground."

They also said  
"There are no rich and poor anymore, we all came down to zero. Now we have to rise together to reconstruct the town. It's a start over." 

At last I asked them for a photo.
Even though they had a terrible experience and they just talked about it to me, they smiled at the camera.

Tohoku people are truly strong.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tohoku, Japan 5

 Ishinomaki City     March 30, 2011

 On the night of March 29, I went to say thank you to the worker at the shelter again,
then I was walking back to my car to sleep.
Suddenly this guy with a donkey came out from darkness and said "where are you going with that big backpack! "
I asked him " Where ARE you going with that donkey" in my mind.
Then, we started to talk.
I thought he was a local farmer or something but he was not.

His name is Mr. Yohane Takahashi.
He is from Shonan, Kanagawa Pref.
He drove over 300miles with his 3 horses and 1 donkey on back of his truck.

The reason why he is here in disaster area........well, I'll just show you the photos.

He owns those horses and donkey and travels shelter to shelter for kids.
He had been doing this for over a week at the time I met him.
After the disaster he asked him self is there anything only he can do for people there and the only answer was this. 

As you can easily imagine the earthquake and tsunami caused severe mental trauma to some people especially to kids.
Mr. Takahashi said that he knows those animals have power to heal people's mental.
more simply, this is a very good entertainment for kids and kids forget bad things while they are having fun!

I am so sure that they had fun because I had so much fun taking picture of them.