“I Lost My Home To A Tsunami… Twice” — Stories from Post-Tsunami Japan

Robin Lewis
Jul 27, 2017 · 2 min read

Meet 80-year old Owada san from Rikuzen-Takada, Iwate Prefecture, Japan.

“I’ve been a fisherman since the age of 16.

In 1960, my house was washed away by a big tsunami, triggered by an earthquake in Chile. Back then, we didn’t have any early-warning systems or anything… It just came, and took everything away.

So my wife and I built a new house from scratch, and slowly put our lives back together.

Then, 50 years later, my house was washed away again by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.

Twice in a lifetime… when I stop to think about it, it’s really quite hard to believe.

But, we are people of the ocean.

My whole life, I’ve had a profound connection with the sea. It has provided for my family for generations, and I have a deep respect for it.

So am I angry? No.

We just have to get on with it. We will rebuild again and carry on.”

*This interview is part of my project , Explore Tohoku. In July 2017, I set off on a 700km walk along Japan’s tsunami-affected Tohoku region following the newly opened “Michinoku Coastal Trail” (みちのく潮風トレイル , or Michinoku Shiokaze Trail) to document the region’s recovery, 6 years after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.

Robin Lewis

Written by

Consultant, World Bank | Co-Founder, Social Innovation Japan | Social Impact, Disasters, Climate, Humanitarian Aid, Storytelling Japan | Travel 70+ Countries

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