MINAMISANRIKU, Miyagi — Crowds stood before the skeletal remnants of this town’s disaster response office on Oct. 11 to pay their respects to people killed in the building during the March 2011 tsunami — one of the last chances they’ll have to do so before the structure is torn down.
Forty-two people, mostly municipal workers, were killed on March 11, 2011 when tsunami waves slammed into the building, gutting the three-story structure and leaving just the steel frame. There had been discussion among locals and the town government about preserving the ruin as a disaster memorial, but Mayor Jin Sato announced on Sept. 26 that it would be dismantled. Preparations to tear the building down will begin soon, with actual demolition set to begin in November.
Among those visiting on Oct. 11 were about 80 students from Matsue Municipal Girls’ High School in distant Shimane Prefecture.
“It was actually quite frightening to see the building in real life,” said one 16-year-old student as she stared up at the steel girders of the building. Behind the group was a broad pool of water, the calm surface of which perfectly reflected the girls and the steel frame looming over them.