Half A Year After The Tsunami

2011/10/18 – Half A Year After The Tsunami

by schauwecker

This is the second part (part one is here) of an open ended series to document the recovery of the tsunami hit coast of northeastern Japan, where approximately 20,000 people lost their lives and entire towns were destroyed in the afternoon of March 11, 2011.

A little bit over half a year after the tsunami, we revisited some of the worst hit cities along the Sanriku Coast in Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures on October 18. In most areas the debris has been sorted and collected into huge mountains, paving the way for reconstruction. The towns are expected to come up with concrete reconstruction plans over the next few months.

We started our day with a visit to Matsushima, a major tourist destination outside of Sendai, which escaped major damage by the tsunami thanks to its protected location inside an island dotted bay. Many of Matsushima’s tourist attractions reopened in time for the Golden Week by late April, and today we were glad to see a considerable number of tourists.

Despite the positive trend, however, visitor numbers to Matsushima remain clearly below last year’s figures. Radiation fears are probably among the major causes behind this, as the town is located “only” 100 kilometers north of the nuclear plants. These fears, however, are unfounded, as Matsushima records radiation levels that are practically unchanged from before the accident.


Many of the souvenir shops along the coastal main road have reopened
Click the picture to compare with April 2011


Many of the souvenir shops along the coastal main road have reopened
Click the picture to compare with April 2011


Tourists have returned to the Godaido Hall in Matsushima


Cruises of Matsushima Bay resumed on April 29


Matsushima Bay

Our next stop was Ishinomaki City, where more people lost their lives and more homes were destroyed than in any other municipality.


The view from Hiyoriyama Park revealed big progress in removing debris
Click the picture to compare with April 2011


The view from Hiyoriyama Park revealed big progress in removing debris
Click the picture to compare with April 2011


The Ishinomori Manga Museum (building with white roof) still lacked electricity, gas and water
Click the picture to compare with April 2011


Some but not all stranded ships have been removed
Click the picture to compare with April 2011


A huge pile of debris


A huge pile of debris


In the city center, which got flooded by the tsunami, quite a few businesses have reopened


Traffic lights were functioning again, and repair works were going on in many places

We continued the coast northwards to Minamisanriku, whose entire town center was destroyed by the tsunami on March 11.


The removal of debris has progressed well in the town center of Minamisanriku
Click the picture to compare with April 2011


The removal of debris has progressed well in the town center of Minamisanriku
Click the picture to compare with April 2011


The removal of debris has progressed well in the town center of Minamisanriku
Click the picture to compare with April 2011


View from Shizugawa Station, the town’s main train station
Click the picture to compare with April 2011


The platform of Shizugawa Station


The railway tracks were removed and stacked on piles


The former timetable of Shizugawa Station


A car remains on top of an apartment building


Destroyed cars piled together in front of a damaged torii gate


A mobile ramen restaurant provided food in Minamisanriku’s town center


A temporary convenience store opened just outside of the town center


Local seafood dishes were available at the Hotel Kanyo just outside of the town center

Further north we paid a quick visit to Kesennuma City. Clean up efforts have progressed here as well, but the works are impeded by the fact that the earthquake caused the city to drop in elevation by a few centimeters, resulting in flooding during high tide in some areas.


This large ship remains deposited more than half a kilometer inland


Wide parts of this city district were flooded


The water seemed to delay the clean up process in this district


The recently repaved, slightly elevated road was still lined by many damaged buildings


It seemed that more damaged buildings were still waiting for demolition here than elsewhere

We concluded this trip with a visit to Rikuzentakata, whose city center was almost completely destroyed by the tsunami on March 11.


Cleanup efforts have progressed well in Rikuzentakata


Rikuzentakata


Most debris has been either removed or collected in smaller piles sorted by material


A lot of the removed debris ended up on huge piles in the city…


… and gets then gradually transported somewhere else


Rikuzentakata Station


The Maiya supermarket in central Rikuzentakata
Click the picture to compare with April 2011


A temporary Maiya supermarket was opened just outside of the city center


Cell phone, cleaning and sweets stores, as well as a Kumon school, also opened temporary locations nearby

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