I was in Japan the week of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, but stayed in Tokyo and the southern areas avoiding the developing disaster in the northern parts of Japan. On another trip to Japan in April 2013 I did visit the tsunami affected areas, there had been a massive clean up since 2011 but there were still many visible scars from the earthquake and tsunami.
I visited one of the worst tsunami hit areas, the small coastal town of Kesennuma. The residents of Kesennuma are welcoming of visitors as their small town fishing industry and local businesses were devastated by the tsunami, visitors can bring in much needed revenue for this small seaside town.
I encourage you to visit some of these small coastal towns affected by the 2011 earthquake/tsunami, you can still see the result of natures forces on the land and people, plus your spending gives much needed help to local economies. Most of these seaside towns are within a day trip from the main city of Sendai. Kesennuma is only around 2 hours by train from Sendai.
A photo taken in Kesennuma during the March 2011 tsunami, in the upper left of the photo is the fishing vessel No.18 Kyotoku Maru which was swept 1 kilometre from the coast to rest in the above position.
From a similar photo position as above (note brown tiled house in both pictures), this was taken two years later after a massive cleanup operation, there is no sign of the houses and businesses that were once part of the Kesennuma Township. The large fishing vessel No.18 Kyotoku Maru can just be seen centre left near the top of the photograph.
Pedestrian walk/don’t walk light still working across the road that is blocked by what is now well known as the ‘tsunami ship’. After being picked up by the tsunami and swept one kilometre inland the 330 ton, 200 feet fishing vessel No.18 Kyotoku Maru straddles across a sealed road in the Shishiori district of Kesennuma.
Personal memorials and a sign beside the ‘tsunami ship’, the sign roughly translated says: “Kesennuma was one of the main places affected by the earthquake and tsunami, many people were killed here, and there was terrible suffering and damage, please respect this area with your photographs and behavior, thank you for your understanding”.
A statue of Daikoku Sama, the god of wealth beside the memorial flower table or Kennkadai. This statue is missing his right arm which normally holds a golden magic money mallet. The right arm was likely broken off during the tsunami, perhaps signifying the terrible loss of life and damage, and with that Kesennuma’s wealth.
This small alter or Saidan has offerings of fresh flowers, incense and green tea for the deceased victims of the tsunami. In the background is the ‘tsunami ship’ No.18 Kyotoku Maru. As of April 2011, the city of Kesennuma had confirmed 837 deaths with 1,196 missing. There was a lot of local debate about keeping the ‘tsunami ship’ as a tsunami monument or removing it completely as it is a daily reminder to residents of the tsunami tragedy. Finally in August 2013, 70% of residents voted to scrap and remove the ‘tsunami ship’ No.18 Kyotoku Maru and today it is no longer at rest in Kesennuma City.
“GET UP JAPAN” This large Daruma or Japanese wishing doll previously travelled around Japan getting messages of support for Japan after the 2011 earthquake/ tsunami from Japanese and other nationalities before sitting here in Kesennuma.
This large Daruma is covered with a map of the world, many wishes of support cover Japan and neighboring countries after the March 11 2011 earthquake/ tsunami.
The left eye of the Daruma is painted in when the wish has been made, when the wish is fulfilled the right eye can be painted onto the Daruma.
“Pray for Tohoku” many messages and wishes cover the area around the map of South America on the Daruma.
Kessenuma resident 45 year old Ito Yuichiro made this ‘Ground Zero’ monument to the tsunami where his home used to stand.
Time stands still at 2.46pm on this old wooden wall clock, marking the time when the March 11th 2011 tsunami slammed through one Kesennuma home.
From the power of the tsunami, the remains of a bent and twisted iron girder contains a permanently trapped can of Cafe au Lait.