Monday, 19 September 2011

Shichigahama (Seven Beaches)

A couple of  weeks ago the usual THJ volunteering was cancelled. A typhoon was predicted to land right on top of us but as usual, nobody knows exactly which direction a typhoon's going to take so we woke up on Saturday morning to a dry, calm, if slightly cloudy day. Too late to get everyone together so four of us took the chance to head up to Shichigahama in Miyagi prefecture which is a couple of hours further North than the usual Iwaki.

Shichigahama is a scenic peninsula pretty close to Sendai and is just across the river from Sendai Shinkou, apparently Japan's version of Supertubes in Peniche but I'd never caught it on a good day. Between Sendai Shinkou and here was the oil refinery fire that was all over the news on March 11.

The volunteer centre there was closed for outside work due to the typhoon that never showed up, but we had a good meeting with the lady in charge and there were some people out the back cleaning up photos. A huge amount of photos, trophies and farmed pictures have been found and some need more cleaning than others. When dry, they lay them out in the back of the hall for people to come in and claim. The volunteer centre is just across from a big sports hall so when they run out of space, they take the overflow to the sports hall where they are on permanent display hoping to be reunited with the people they mean something to.

The lady who showed us round was an inspiration. After a tour of the centre she showed us a map of the area with some photos and in a very matter-of fact way pointed out where her house once was but was now just a concrete slab. She'd lost some cousins and other family members when the 17 metre tsunami hit, but luckily her husband, their two kids and grandkids were all OK but have lost everything. They now live all very close to each other again in the temporary accomodation which looked like some sort of army barracks built next to the volunteer centre. She kept saying "Shoganai ne", which basically means, it can't be helped, or there's nothing you can do so you may as well get on with it.  She regulalry sees people she knows, or sadly in some cases knew, in the photos that are brought in to be cleaned.

I read somewhere that if everybody who was unhappy with their life got together and put all their problems in a big pile in front of them so that everyone else could see them and were given the chance to swap, most people would look around, then go back and pick up their own problems and get on with it. I certainly knew nothing in my pile would come close to what this woman was facing.

I mentioned the tsunami here was 17 metres. This telegrah pole is 15 metres tall and sitting at about 2 metres above sea level.

This used to be a typical beach-side scenic drive. It will be again one day.

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