31
May

0

On the Ground: The city two months after the earthquake

More than two months have passed since Peace Boat began actively engaging in the relief effort in Ishinomaki. This series of photos represents the city at its current state.  It has taken two months for the mud mud and debris including household goods to be cleared from the shopping area in front of the train station, through the work of volunteers as seen here.

Shops have slowly begun to open their doors for business in the area.  One store opening up for business can be a source of encouragement for the people working and living in the area  Similar to the story of the Moriya fruit shop, other shops such as Japanese style bars (izakaya) and dentists began opening for business after clearing the sludge out of their property.  A volunteer in charge of clearing out the sludge and mud from an izakaya stated that it is his dream “to visit Ishinomaki once again after the shop has reopened.”

Miyagi Prefecture is well known as the birthtown of Ishinomori Ryotaro, author of the popular manga series Kamen Rider.  A special event was held during children’s day (a national holiday dedicated to celebrating children in Japan) at the Ishinomori Manga Museum in Ishinomaki.

In front of the train station and the shopping areas, statues of Kamen Rider and Cyborg 009, well-known heroes to children in Japan, stand with an air of composure after having survived the tsunami.  Their figures give encouragement to volunteers and locals working to recover from the disaster.

However, viewing the bay area from the station, many areas remain still in array.  The efforts being made towards clearing the coastal area is held back by the damage to the factories  near the coast, where debris such as piping and iron scraps, paper fiber and pulp from the paper mills, and fish from processing factories have poured into the residential districts along with the mud.

The advertising sign of a canning factory

The advertising sign of a canning factory

Coastal area.  Currently, it is very quiet, but during the tsunami the place was flooded up to the second floor.

Coastal area. Currently, it is very quiet, but during the tsunami the place was flooded up to the second floor.

In many areas electricity is still unavailable and the traffic lights have malfunctioned.  Here, police officers from Hyogo prefectures in western Japan are directing traffic.

In many areas electricity is still unavailable and the traffic lights have malfunctioned. Here, police officers from Hyogo prefectures in western Japan are directing traffic.

A gravestone as yet not mended.

A gravestone not yet mended.

The Eida area where Peace Boat continues to provide hot meals.

The Eida area where Peace Boat continues to provide hot meals.

Plans are being made to bring more heavy equipment and people to assist recovery in these areas where partial or complete destruction have occurred. These efforts will have to be made one step at a time.  This can only be realized with the help of volunteers, which is still needed in these areas.