Tsunami survivors ~ A Year Later Vol. 2

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I photographed over 50 families who survived the tsunami right after the disaster hit their towns. This year, I revisited some of them to ask them about how they’ve recouped their lives. I would like to introduce a few stories here.


Fukuko Hatakeyama, 81, Kesennuma, Miyagi

I first met her in March last year in Shinhama-cyo in Kesennuma, where a huge fishing ship was washed ashore and debris was scattered all around.

“I am looking for the cash I was saving. In case of fire, I wrapped the money in fire-proof material but I don’t know where it got swept away”

It was chunk of cash that she had saved to leave behind for her son. She looked for it everyday but never found it. Making matters worse, she hurt her back as she was walking on debris and ended up in hospital for four months.

“My son kept saying to me that I shouldn’t go to look for the money because I was coughing during nights and my feet were getting weak. But I kept sneaking out everyday then I started to feel pain in my back”

After getting out of hospital, she moved in temporary house provided by the city in September. She lives with her bedridden husband, Kojiro, who survived the tsunami as he was staying at a nursing center.

“Volunteer nurses visit us every Monday to check on us. They sympathize with us but no need for that. I do my best as much as I can”

Eighty-one-year-old Mrs. Hatakeyama still stays strong and her mind is clear.  Her voice has high tone and is very soothing.

The city prohibits her from rebuilding a house on the same land because of the risk of another tsunami. The land sunk almost five feet as well. She heard that the city is planning to make the land a public park but nothing has been confirmed. Mrs. Hatakeyama went to the city office to find out about her land.

“I complained to them that it’s my land and you can’t change it into park, but they even don’t know what’s happening and how long it’ll take to make a plan. It’s not going to get resolved in my lifetime”

Mrs. Hatakeyama loves to sing since she was young.

“When I’m sleeping, sometimes I have to sing a song. Otherwise I feel like I’m going crazy. My husband liked to hear me singing but I can’t sing as well as I used to …”

I asked her to sing a song. She was hesitant at first but began singing with her soft voice. It was “Okichi-tale”

“I don’t moan if my tears can bring me back the past.

The flower blossoms only once.  No need for consolation…”

(B&W photos were shot in 2011)







退院し、9月に仮設住宅に入居。震災前に介護センターに入所しており助かった夫の興治朗さんも10月に退所し、現在は2人で暮らしている。 興治朗さんはほとんど動くことができず、寝たきりだ。
















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