Ofunato Summer 2011 Volunteering - Break Time

On Tuesday All Hands takes they day off. With the city volunteers still down for 1 more day it seemed like the perfect time to get that tourism that I had planned to get done done…

I offered the two spaces in my car to first takers and a young middle American who had a flair for the Japanese language (which he had just started learning a few days before) and a former team USA winter Olympian squeezed themselves into my car. We then proceeded up the coast on route 45 toward Miyako City.
Every single town on the coast has been hit. Every single one. In the case of places like Sanriku, they were triple struck, First the Quake, then the Tsunami and finally a fire. Natural disasters on this scale are quite something. No matter how beautiful the road and amazing the scenery, as the road dipped into the next town, we were greeted with giant cement sea walls upturned like Duplo Blocks. And yes. The gutted remains of homes.
After about an hour and a half we arrived in heaven. Or at least one of Heaven’s beaches. Jodogahama (lit. Heaven beach) is one of the many examples of Touhoku’s spectacular natural heritage. and we were happy to see that it was accepting visitors. Despite having all their beach facilities destroyed by the Tsunami.
We met a few other All hands Volunteers. It seems like my announcement had spurred others to requisition transport and come up this way to relax in the heavenly surroundings.
On the return we took our time and ate at a rather good tonkatsu shop, all of which slowed us down enough to catch explosions going off in the skies over Sanriku. Were it not for our leisurely pace we would have missed what turned out to be one of the most happy festivals I have been to in Japan.
Firstly the traditional lion dancers were new to me. They were also pretty damn epic. But it was what happened afterwards that really made me happy. We had some shaved ice and as we were doing so, met and got to really know a group of young guys who live in the town. Its easy for us to volunteer and then return to wherever but they stay. They will stay there their whole lives. They need to pick up the pieces. They need to deal with the loss of friends and family and THEY need to rebuild after the volunteers clear away the muck. I don't know if its naturally the case, but I have no doubt the simple fact that the people there know about the ease at which life can come to an end, they seemed more, true. more pure than Gunma people. They were honest, hard working, devastated yet extremely happy young guys. It was truly a night I will never forget

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