A Visit to Tohoku

It’s been about a month now since fall break, during which about 40 students and staff from my school went up to Tohoku to Volunteer with Team Kobe.

Thanks to Mr. Ryan at NIS for most of the pictures here.

It took us about 12 hours to drive each way, with the bus stopping every two hours for the drivers to switch/break, and for us to use the facilities.

I spent the two days working with the students and my colleagues to dig muck from gutters. We removed lots of tiles, household dishes, mud, cinder blocks, broken glass and other debris from the gutters. Some students and teachers were also involved in cleaning a temple on the first day.

On our way back to Nagoya, we drove through areas that were devastated by the tsunami. You can tell how high the wave was by looking at the brown cedar trees that are dying as a result of the sea water. The sea line has changed in some areas. There are buildings on their side and a bus on the roof of a hospital. Apparently the community is discussing whether to keep some of the wreckage to show respect for the life lost and damage sustained. Although a lot of the rubble has been cleaned up or at least sorted into piles, one is struck by the intensity of the devastation and the continued desolation. Of course, it would be considered inauspicious to rebuild in many of those spots. The whole situation defies imagination. I am happy that I got a chance to help, even a little, but am overwhelmed by the amount of reconstruction that needs to be done, and by thoughts of the casualties suffered from the March 11 tragedy.