There is too much to tell you and not enough words.
Everyone who was here on 11 March must have a story to make the hair stand on end, about where they were and what they saw, who they lost and where they found the strength to continue. Every empty plot of land, ruined shop and smashed car has its own story, of the people who lived or worked there, the journeys they took together and their hopes and fears for the future that never came, washed away on a tide of mud and debris that overwhelmed manmade defences too easily. The lines on the buildings tell their own tale of how high the waters rose.
I wasn’t even sure I should go. I’m not strong, not good at digging, not a builder or a carpenter and worried I would get in the way of those that are. My Japanese is so lacking that I can’t even read enough to book the bus tickets. More than once I convinced myself I should leave it to others. Then I read the Frequently Used Excuses page on the It’s Not Just Mud website, send some emails and almost before I know how, am getting off a bus into the crisp, cold air of the most gorgeous morning I have seen since I arrived in Japan. Taking a deep breath because here I am in Ishinomaki, the city we have all seen countless times on the news, yet everything looks – well, kind of ok.
To read more, download a copy of The Teas That Bind, the story of my experiences in Japan after the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, available now.