Japan's tsunami area
"Because of proximity to the nuclear reactor power plant site, please take caution and don't go beyond this point"--this is the sign outside of the small ghost town of Odaka, Minami-soma. One year and 4 months after the tragic earthquake and tsunami, this town's residents are only allowed to return to their homes during the day for short periods of time. Most of them have moved away to safer areas. But for some whose family has been here for generations, these homes and lands are all that remain of their heritage.
Facing the shoreline, this scene used to be lined with homes. It was a typical small town on the coast. Now, most of the homes completely wiped away, apart from some basements still submerged, the water still is covering the land up to 1/2 mile inland. Driving through these once rice patties observers can see occasional remains of the people that were here: cars completely rusted over...
...small children's toys lying in the untouched sand
Dr. Yoshido guided us through these areas
Beyond the water levels on higher ground there remain some homes where the entire first floor has been ripped away
The tsunami's water still covers these lands so it's almost impossible to notice the river that follows this road on the right side. Can you see it?
The earthquake caused much rubble while the tsunami seemed to carry off some it while other piles of trash lie collectively on the small bits of dry sand.
As the water recedes slowly, ocean fish are left in the sections of water. They continue to survive off of the bugs in the area but as the water continues to lower, it will start smelling pretty bad. Dr.Yoshido attempted a glance at the many fish, but through the murky waters it was difficult to identify them. There could be all sorts of crazy aquamarine life here.
It was a very interesting day being guided through Odaka but covered a very short period of our time. Dr. Harasawa as well as several other medical professionals taught us about the needs of the community since the disaster. Almost 75% of the young children and families have deserted the city of Minamisoma. And the few kids left are scared to go outside because of the radiation. The radiation levels here are not even high enough to rate on the measuring tags worn by some doctors initially. A lack of hope is ripping through this older community while the younger ones are plagued by fear.
Some people still live in their homes such as in the below picture where we shadowed the doctor into several of his oushin, home visits. While many of the community does now survive in the temporary housing and will stay there for at least another two years. Future options for them are limited as the radiation collected in the fields used for farming must lay vacant for several years as the levels decrease. We asked those living in the small temporary housing units what is one they'd like to share with others. One lady responded saying, "We want to live together."
Sadly, living together is one of the few things providing them hope and a sense of community. And it's also something the government will want to stop. To Christians, we see this lack of hope very evidently in those who have no faith in a Creator or Saviour. When there is no real beginning or end it makes sense to feel confused and purposeless, even before a big disaster such as this. The need for Christ name and his story to be heard here is very important. Suicide rates in the older generation are continually rising up. But, there is hope. How can they hear it?
And I'll be sharing an idea to help give them this hope in my next post.