We started the day with a reflection on the Tohoku trip. One thing that really surprised me was Hiroto’s remark. He talked about memorials in DC and the elementary schools in Japan. The Japanese group said that the memorials in DC were a very good idea. Hiroto stated that we have the elementary schools which are like memorials. Though from what I thought was by just looking at them, I cannot fully imagine about how parents who lost their children who go to these schools feel when they see them. So, these schools are more than what I can see, which makes these something that are more than just memorials.
Next we went to hear a lecture by people from the tourist association. Before the earthquake there were about 17,500 people in Minamisanriku. Last year, the population was less than 14,000. It has gone down to this number because people are moving out of this city to evacuate and because their jobs are gone. When this city needs people to recover, people moved out and still there are people moving out of the city.
What interested me the most was one of the people’s experience. He was my age when it happened and he told us how it was like in the evacuation area. He said there was no privacy. I cannot imagine how it would feel to have no privacy for one and a half months, though it must have been a very hard experience.
Thirdly, we had lunch with people in the Woman’s Eye. We split into a couple of tables and different groups heard stories from different people. I heard stories from Mrs. Tomoko Yamauchi. What was impactful was her son’s story. She has two sons and one of them was affected directly by the earthquake. He was helping people to evacuate and while he was doing so, the tsunami came. He clung on to the nearest electricity pole for a whole week until he was so tired that he thought he could cling on no more. When he saw a stranger pass, he told him, “Tell the others that I was washed away.” This quote was very powerful and I couldn’t imagine what he felt like when he said it. After he said this, he was rescued but got paralyzed for 10 days.
Also, what I learned was how important it was for the mayor to tell people who live in other parts of Japan about the disaster when it happened. In Tohoku, many people heard about it and came as a rescue team. Unfortunately, in Kumamoto there was a very big earthquake too, although they don’t have enough volunteers helping out. I thought that needs to be changed, though I can’t think how yet.
We ended the day with another reflection. We thought about, based on what we saw or experienced, what we could do to make a better future. Many people talked about making organizations to bring people together or starting a club to give information on the tsunami. Also, I agreed with what Kan said about how we can’t avoid these natural disasters but how they make people stronger like the people in Tohoku. He talked about how we can never predict what nature will do to us, so all we can do is be strong.
The photo below was taken by Kan in the morning when we went to the tourist association. We discussed about the tsunami. I chose this photo because it showed the people who experienced the tsunami and people from outside of the country who learned about this. I think it shows how people communicating is important.
Keio SFC High School