We all remember March 11, 2011
I guess almost everyone on the planet knows what happened on March 11, 2011 in Northern Japan; The Japan Great East Earthquake and Tsunami. It was a painful experience not only for Japan but for all humankind. But from these disasters spring opportunity for people to learn how to deal with such catastrophes and prevent them from happening again in the future.
We call it LEGACY
The Japanese are a strong and resilient race, as has been proven on countless occasions throughout history. Their courage is never more evident in the way they deal with the aftermath of a disaster. They do not lay idle, searching for blame or looking for sympathy, but quietly rebuild; respecting the past and memorizing their loss and hardship as a lesson for future generations. And that is what I love the most about the Japanese.
There are many places in the Tohoku region, including in Miyagi Prefecture, that serve as a reminder for us about the events of the past. One of the most impressive is Millennium Hope Hill (千年希望の丘) in Iwanuma City.
Millennium Hope Hill (千年希望の丘)
「In memory of all who passed away and devastated communities」
Here you will find information boards that tell the story of the Earthquake and Tsunami that ravaged this area in 2011. The information also explains the purpose of the memorial, as well as recognizing the continuing recovery efforts. Just only looking at them, I could almost feel the pain and huge efforts made by local residents to bring this town back to life.
The surrounding areas have also been reconstructed as a green town with trees, solar-power farms, lifesaving evacuation areas, as well as a coast protection system.
This hill is located in Iwanuma, one of the worst affected areas of the 2011 Tsunami catastrophe. Because it lies next to the ocean, it is highly vulnerable to high waves and potential disaster. Therefore, in order to save lives (命を守る) in the event of future disaster, 3 evacuation hills have been constructed at a height of 11 meters above sea level. The estimated height of the Tsunami that reached this area was around 8 meters. People can evacuate to these hills in a tsunami and there are life-savers, evacuation tools and other equipment stored under some of the benches around the hills as well. It is hoped that these hills will save thousands of lives in the next millennium.
Thanks to all of the recovery efforts, the area has become a bright and beautiful symbol of resilience.
One more piece of information for those interested is that Sendai City and some other cities across Japan have a air quality system that monitors all the cities air quality on a daily or even bi-hourly basis. In Sendai, local residents can sign up for a system report every 2 hours via this link: http://sendaitm.ec-net.jp/taiki/
They also have a public screen displaying air quality figures, especially PM 2.5 (levels of fine particle pollutants) in the City Office.