News / Asia

Unknown Future for Town Annihilated by Tsunami

The Tozen-ji shrine building is one of the few in town still standing, Natori, Japan, March 21, 2011
The Tozen-ji shrine building is one of the few in town still standing, Natori, Japan, March 21, 2011

Multimedia

Henry Ridgwell

The rescue of two people from the wreckage of their home nine days after the tsunami struck Japan has given renewed hope that more survivors may be found. But for most families, the desperate search for missing loved ones continues in vain. The devastated town of Natori, close to where the latest survivors were discovered, a community struggles to comprehend the events of March 11.

At the Tozen-ji shrine in the town of Natori, the granite gravestones lie smashed across the ground. The shrine building is one of the few in town still standing. Yukihiro Soga stands amid the ruined gravestones. He has come to collect the bones of his parents.

"It’s not so hard to sift through the soil," he says. "The bone fragments are much lighter than the stones."

It may seem a grim task, but Soga says it is his duty to his parents.

He says nature is more powerful than the human race, but one must live in harmony with nature. He says, although the tsunami caused such huge destruction, he does not feel anger. "I am lucky that my family all survived this," he says. It will be a new start, he says, starting from zero. But he says, he will live with nature, where his roots are, where his parents are.

Like Soga, thousands of people up and down this coastline have felt the full force of nature, and must now start from zero.

A clock hanging from the remains of a house is frozen at 2:47, the moment the tsunami struck.

Natori was on the frontline when the wave smashed into the shoreline. Anyone who had not escaped this flat coastal plain had little chance.

Police in Miyagi prefecture say 15,000 people probably died in this prefecture alone.

On an embankment bordering the Natori River, not far from where Sunday’s rescue took place, lies the body of a teenage boy, a nameless corpse waiting to be collected and taken to the overwhelmed morgue.

At the wreckage of the shrine, Masahiro Kano, is also wandering among the ruins. He wonders whether this community has any future at all.

"Can people live here anymore?" he says. "Do people even want to live here anymore?" He says he thinks it would be better if everyone went to live somewhere else.

With typical Japanese efficiency, the clean up and reconstruction effort is well under way. But even if towns like Natori are rebuilt, doubts remain that many people will want to return to live somewhere so vulnerable to the power of nature.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs