May 30th – we rented an 8 seater van with the intention to travel towards Sendai to see some of the coastal areas that had been completely destroyed.  As we are on the Tsunami Debris leg of the voyage we thought it would be a good opportunity to see the actual start point.  It was an incredibly heavy day and we all felt this seeing the absolute obliteration of some of the coastal communities.  Driving for kilometers and seeing nothing but house foundations was incredibly sad.  Thousands of homes and communities just gone.  We saw mountains of debris some partially sorted others piled 10s of metres high just waiting for something to happen to them but slowly being taken over by plants and grass.  Birds standing sentry on jutting out pieces of metal watching over the personal property of thousands of unknown people.   The amount of work that must have been done to make these gigantic piles of debris and clear kilometers of land is incredible.
We went to a fishing village and the sights we saw will stay with me forever.  Walking around the foundation remains of these traditional houses identifying the different rooms by the flooring, we could see scattered around the personal effects.  A child’s shoe, a screwdriver, broken crockery … it was incredibly sad.  The image below struck me.  The fishing line of the village fisherman was tangled in the bushes and debris and served as a reminder of the people who lived here but also like cobwebs marking the passage of time since the community was destroyed.  There was a lone Kite/Eagle circling overhead as we were there and you could feel the sense of tragedy.  None of us spoke much as we hopped back in the car to continue on.

We found a beach around Gizomori that had been partially cleaned but there was still obvious remains of detritus and reminders.  The road we travelled on to get to the beach was new and we could see twisted rails from the roadside embedded in the sand.  There were also multi tonne blocks of concrete strewn on the beach like they weighed nothing.  The immense power of the ocean to move these blocks is awesome.  The seawall had been breached and there were tree trunks and house frames on the sand.  We found a lot of children’s toys among the beach debris.  The house that was 4 m higher than the beach had been rebuilt next to the site where the previous house had been ripped from its foundations.  I honestly don’t know how you could live through something as terrifying as that tsunami and rebuild your house in the same place.

We have incredible respect for the Japanese people to live through this event and still be smiling and positive.  The amount of work to start to rebuild these areas is phenomenal.  So much has been done but so much still needs to be done.