Messages from Sendai Students ［English］
Vol.20 "Visiting the Disaster Affected Areas Near Sendai"
Mari Nakanishi, Japan
s part of an event organised by SenTIA, I rode the storytelling taxi service in a group of both Japanese students and exchange students. As part of the service, the taxi driver tells you about how the area was at the time of the disaster, and also about the state of recovery. On this occasion, Chuo Taxi provided us with the tour.
I am currently a 4th year student at university, and have studied abroad for a year. As such, I entered university and began living in Sendai in 2011. Living in Sendai I should have been seeing how the city was recovering, but had yet to visit the disaster affected areas of the city. While it might seem a little late, I participated in this tour in hope of learning more about the disaster and passing on messages about it.
What really left an impression on me was a certain pine tree stood next to a shrine in Hiyoriyama in Yuriage. I heard from the driver that at the time of the tsunami, some people saved themselves by holding on to this tree.
On the wooden plaque of the shrine, there are wishes from people from all over Japan and the world wishing for the recovery of the area. In addition, I looked at photos of people evacuating to the roof of a wastewater treatment plant in the Gamo area, which had been affected by the disaster. In this area, especially the parts closest to the river, there is a mix of people’s houses, abandoned houses and empty portions of land.
Post-disaster, there were several groups of people, from those who could not return to their homes and were forced to move, those who stayed in their previous homes, to those who chose to move as part of the collective relocation project and more. However, for recovery I feel we should not only return the area to its previous state, but build foundations so that people can continue living in the area long into the future. We also need to do all we can ourselves, not just pray and hope.
While this tour was only around two and a half hours, taking place in the morning only, I really feel as though I learnt a lot and got to think about the disaster in detail. At the Yuriage market, you can buy local specialities and try some of the kaisendon (bowl of rice topped with raw fish). If you are interested, I really recommend riding the storytelling taxi service!