Tsunami remnants draw visitors in summer vacation

32-year-old woman from Morioka lost 13 relatives in the March 11 tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake.

Kamaishi: A 100-meter-long cargo ship aground on the quay, a crumbled coastal levee once dubbed the Great Wall, and the sole surviving pine tree out of 70,000 are some of the remnants of the March tsunami in Iwate Prefecture drawing visitors this summer.

"I wanted to let my kid know the danger of tsunami," said Seiko Obara, a 48-year-old company employee from Tokyo, who visited to see the 4,724-ton Asian Symphony on the quay here
with his 9-year-old son Taichi during a visit to his parents` home in Hanamaki, also in Iwate.

"I think reconstruction will continue until the time of our children`s generation. So I want him to remember (the harm) by actually seeing it with his own eyes," Obara said.

The boy said, "The power of the tsunami is unbelievable." A 32-year-old woman from Morioka (the prefectural capital), who lost 13 relatives in the March 11 tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, said, "Until now, I was too scared to come to this place."

"I came here for the Bon (Buddhist festival for honouring the spirits of the dead), but I can`t recompose myself. I think many people still cannot look at the sea," she added.

With the location drawing a constant stream of visitors, a 44-year-old company employee in the neighbourhood said, "I don`t want it to be a tourist spot, but I think it is good for people who have not gone through tsunami to see it. Images and reality are totally different."

In the Taro district of Miyako city, where tsunami overrode a 10-meter-high levee had been likened to the Great Wall of China, Yae Yokoyama, who said, she had come to offer a silent prayer for victims, was amidst numerous visitors.

"I used to pray for the happiness of my family in the Bon season, but it is different this year," she added. Near the sole remaining tree in what used to be a big pine grove in Rikuzentakata, many people could be seen taking photographs.

"I marvel at the fact that just one tree remained, and came over to see it," said a 21-year-old college senior from Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo, who is visiting his father`s home in the same city.

"In the Kanto region, all we talk about is how to save energy. By coming to Tohoku, I learned anew how serious the damage is."

A 32-year-old middle school teacher from Hokkaido said, "I will teach students the danger of tsunami as the school I work for is close to the sea. I also want to tell them that the disaster areas are standing up against the hardship, just like the pine tree that withstood the tsunami."


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