Day 2(cont’d) – Japan

After lunch we went for a tour of an area hardest hit by the devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. It was a very moving experience.
We first went to the Hare Valley community care center for the elderly. An organization called Peace Winds Japan is working in the area to help with temporary housing and with services for the elderly. The senior center has been made from connecting painted shipping containers together around a open area courtyard. The center provides a gathering place for seniors who work on weaving intricately designed baskets to sell to help raise money for restoration efforts. When we left, two people from the organization accompanied us to show us around the area. It’s so very sad to see what happened here. The area was devastated first by the earthquake (magnitude around 9) and then by the tsunami which got to around 60 feet high. The people had less than an hour’s notice that the tsunami was coming, and no one correctly estimated the size of it. In this town over 800 people died or are missing. In Japan overall, dead and missing are around 20,000. The man with us had many personal stories to share with us. We saw some buildings that were twisted and destroyed that haven’t been demolished yet. We saw a junior high school that had water about 9 feet deep, but the kids and adults survived by going to a higher floor. It reminded me of the devastation from Hurricane Katrina but with loss of property and lives on a much greater scale. Since almost everything is gone in this area, they are hauling in dirt and fill to try to raise the ground level by over 10 meters before they begin rebuilding structures.  We did see some temporary housing being used for some of the remaining residents.

Afterwards, we checked in to Hotel Monterey Sendai. It’s a beautiful old building that’s in Tudor style. We had dinner at Tofuro, again in Izakaya style. It has been really odd to take off my shoes and go padding around a restaurant in my bare feet! The food was again very different from anything I’ve seen. I tasted some of it, and couldn’t summon the courage to taste some of it. 😳 There were nightshirts lying in the beds for the use of guests. I slept in it because I’ve never slept in anything starched and ironed before! 

Sendai is a beautiful city. Both this city and Tokyo are amazingly clean and neat. We have found people to be friendly everywhere we’ve gone thus far.

Samurai armour - Sendai City Museum

Samurai armour – Sendai City Museum

Rice fields are a common site along the highway.

Rice fields are a common site along the highway.

Entrance to a bathroom where you remove your shoes and put on special slippers for the bathroom.

Entrance to a bathroom where you remove your shoes and put on special slippers for the bathroom.

Bathroom slippers are a little large, but I guess that's to be expected since it's one size for all women and men.

Bathroom slippers are a little large, but I guess that’s to be expected since it’s one size for all women and men.

People at the senior center weaving baskets from paper.

People at the senior center weaving baskets from paper.

Senior center made from shipping containers.

Senior center made from shipping containers.

Wreckage from the tsunami. Everyone in this building perished.

Wreckage from the tsunami. Everyone in this building perished.

Flowers and Jizo placed at the building as a memorial to those who died.

Flowers and Jizo placed at the building as a memorial to those who died.

Messages to the those who died are written on these boards and placed at the site.

Messages to the those who died are written on these boards and placed at the site.

Wreckage and debris from ongoing work. Plans are to raise the ground level by 10 meters.

Wreckage and debris from ongoing work. Plans are to raise the ground level by 10 meters.

Lucien pointing out the watermark from the tsunami on the pillar of this junior high school building.

Lucien pointing out the watermark from the tsunami on the pillar of this junior high school building.

On March 11, 2011, the clock was stopped by the tsunami at 2:46.

On March 11, 2011, the clock was stopped by the tsunami at 2:46.

a popular beer in Japan

a popular beer in Japan

One of the dinner courses this evening

One of the dinner courses this evening

Close up!

Close up!

Bed and starched night shirt for guests of Hotel Monterey Sendai

Bed and starched night shirt for guests of Hotel Monterey Sendai

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