Tomioka town authorities will preserve a police car wrecked by the massive tsunami caused by the 2011 earthquake as a symbol of bravery displayed by two off-duty police officers who died as they rushed to save residents. Mayor Koichi Miyamoto announced the decision on Dec. 16 at the start of a municipal assembly session. The town plans to begin preparations for the car’s preservation within the current fiscal year ending next March.
The officers were superintendant Yoichi Masuko, then 41, and assistant inspector Yuta Sato, then 24. They have been posthumously promoted by two ranks in honor of their dedicated service. The two were believed to have been engulfed by the tsunami while guiding residents to safety.
NATORI, Miyagi Prefecture–Circles of people formed one after another around buckets of flames that illuminated the city’s desolate Yuriage district after dusk on Aug. 16 in the local tradition of the Bon festival.
Former residents of the district that was flattened by tsunami spawned by the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011 lit the flames, known as Bon-bi, during the festival for the dead.
Children enjoyed steamed manju buns after roasting them over the fires on willow branches during the festival.
One of the former residents, Yusuke Arakawa, was among the crowd building the fires that day. He lost his grandparents in the tsunami.
“They must be yearning to return to the place they grew accustomed to living for years,” he said. “I would like to welcome and send them off by roasting the buns.”
He and his peers worked to reinstate the Bon-bi a year after the disaster. This year’s festival may be the last time it will be held on the vacant land.
Earth-filling work is slated to start in autumn as a step toward building a new community in the district.
“I feel like memories of the old community will be buried with the construction work,” Arakawa said. “Holding the Bon-bi (in this wilderness) may be our last.”
The many streamers over the city’s Omagarihama district included about 100 new ones sent from across the country as a gesture of sympathy for Higashimatsushima’s losses in the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. The new streamers joined around 500 flown in years past.
The event was launched by 21-year-old Kento Ito, who lived in the Omagarihama district at the time of the disasters and lost four family members including a 5-year-old brother to the waves.
“I want to live positively,” with the encouragement of the people who donated the carp streamers in his heart, he said.
The Iwaki municipal government is considering preservation of the Toyoma Junior High School complex, which was damaged by tsunami in the Great East Japan Earthquake, as a reminder of the disaster for future generations. The local government unveiled the plan at a meeting of a group of local residents in Iwaki on March 29 to report a master plan for areas that include the Toyoma district. The city government will make a final decision on whether to preserve the school after hearing the opinions of local residents. An official of the Fukushima prefectural government said, “Although damaged by tsunami, it is technically possible to preserve the school without demolishing it.”
Under the city’s land readjustment project for post-disaster reconstruction, an open space for disaster prevention is scheduled to be set up in the school’s premises. As a result, the school is slated for relocation to a new building to be constructed close to Toyoma Elementary School.
In connection with the move, the local residents’ group had requested the Fukushima prefectural government and the Iwaki municipal office to preserve the damaged school building from the standpoint of disaster-prevention education. Based on the group’s request, the prefectural government conducted an on-site survey to check the feasibility of preserving the building. It determined through the survey that it is technically possible to use the school building as a disaster reminder without hampering its functions as a disaster-prevention open space.
An event to remember the victims of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake by lighting candles at night in various parts of Fukushima Prefecture got under way March 8 in Koriyama City. About 2,000 candles were lit at a plaza near JR Koriyama Station in the first leg of the “Candle Night: Lights of Hope” project aimed at praying for an early recovery from the earthquake and tsunami disaster as well as the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co.
Organized by the Fukushima prefectural government, the candle lighting events were scheduled in seven areas in the prefecture through March 11. Candle artist Candle June was in charge of staging the events, while participants drew pictures on the cylindrical candle holders.
Another similar event called “Haru hotaru” (spring firefly) organized by the Koriyama municipal board of education also took place, with about 700 lanterns lining the streets. The lanterns were made using “Ebine washi,” a traditional Japanese art paper of Koriyama, and participants wrote on them messages such as “Hope” and “One step forward at a time” to express their hopes for recovery.