Road to Ishinomaki Higashi Matsushima Yamoto Japan Earthquake Tsunami Miyagi 2011
Matsushima Bay, Matsushima-machi, Japan
Just a quick note before the main description of the continuation of the March 25th, journey to the devastated coast. After being in this this area of Higashi Matsushima / Yamoto and southern Ishinomaki, I honestly did not think that it could get any worse. This last weekend, however, I helped a friend of a friend and her family salvage what they could from their house before it would be taken down by the city. The house itself was blown off its foundation and pushed back by the tsunami nearly 100 feet from where it stood. Unfortunately, we couldn't salvage much of their belongings, but every little bit counts. Now, although both of these areas were utterly destroyed by the tsunami, the pictures I will be uploading soon have one more element which makes the scene even more grim: Oil. Mud and oil covered everything and the fumes were sickening. Just carrying items from the blown back house to the truck for a few hours gave me a headache and a slight stomachache. In some areas the fumes were so intense that there were reports of explosions from people lighting their cigarettes. From what I heard, there had also been a dramatic increase in rape, looting, and murder. I should mention, however, that there is generally not much crime in Japan, so even a spike or dramatic increase in criminal activity in those areas may very well be far below that of other relatively sized cities in other developed nations. The soil is tainted, the fumes are unbearable, and the people are scared, but despite everything people are trying desperately to think on the bright side. Smiles and laughter seem to be the best weapon against crying and fear. Those pictures and videos will be uploaded soon, but here is a continuation of the March 25th, 2011 journey to Higashi Matsushima / Yamoto and southern Ishinomaki: Starting from a distance, my friend and I moved in closer and closer to ground zero of the Japan earthquake / tsunami. We decided to leave around 5:30 AM and bike to the top one of the barrier mountains directly between Misato (my town) and Ishinomaki / Higashi Matsushima (some of the devastated cities). After a tough haul up the steep mountain, we realized that we really couldn't see the true condition of the destroyed cities. A rice ball later, we mustered up the gumption to continue away from the safety of the mountain and move closer to the ocean side. As we approached the crippled military base, signs of wreckage began to attract our attention - a cracked sidewalk here, dead fish littering the canal over there; it became worse and worse the closer we we came. Once we reached the Japanese Self-Defense Force base of Higashi Matsushima , we circled around the fallen down, barbed-wire fence perimeter. As we traveled north to Ishinomaki, we were suddenly overwhelmed with destruction. I will be posting those pictures of utter destruction up after this, but I will be leaving soon to help my friend salvage her belongings before her place is destroyed for reconstruction; sounds a bit oxymoronic, but at this point, there is not much to do but wipe everything clean and start again. I should warn you, that the next pictures to come up are quite disturbing and may require discretion. If you wish to dive deeper and read more about my experiences or perhaps purchase any of these pictures, please go to my website: www.carstenknoche.com With cooperation, strength, and perseverance, we can accomplish anything.