Urato Islands! I'M BACK! (Part 1)

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Asia » Japan » Miyagi » Shiogama
August 26th 2011
Published: August 29th 2011
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Oh what a day today was!
Today was the day I went to my beloved island school, so naturally I was bit excited. Actually...I was more excited than I thought because I woke up at 4am and was unable to fall back asleep. So I took my time getting ready and eating breakfast before catching the 6:30 train to Shiogama's Marine Gate.

(Before I get into too much about my day, I just thought I'd let you know why this school is my "beloved." The school is grades 1-9 and has only 30-35 students total, so class sizes are very small. Combine that with a 40-minute ferry ride to school, and then back again, that gave me plenty of time to really get to know the students and teachers. The whole atmosphere was also more laid back than at other schools and I was able to experience much more of the Japanese culture here. When I first learned of the March 11th disaster I immediately emailed one of the teachers at this school to make sure they were alright. Thankfully they were.)

Marine Gate had taken a large amount of damage from tsunami, so many parts were closed off but nonetheless, I still recognized the old building. As I was buying my boat ticket I was approached by a man, who addressed me as "Tanya-sensei." I assumed he was a new teacher at the school, but the next thing I know he's handing me his business card, which has "Miyagi Television" clearly written on it! Apparently this reporter and 2 cameramen were going to spend the morning following me around school! No pressure, or anything. (Haha..ha)
As I approached the boat I was greeted by very familiar faces, and after a few minutes of excited squeals (from both the students and myself) I got on board and greeted the teachers.
I spent the boat ride talking with the Principal, who, might I add, has very good English. He pointed out various areas that were affected by the disaster and told me how much damage I should expect to see on the school's island. Having taken this boat to school for a long time, I noticed after 20 minutes that I had no idea where we were! Apparently, there is too much debris in the waters so the boat has to take a different route now to avoid it (and

You can see where the dock used to attach to the island and how much the water has risen.
thus takes about 60 minutes now instead of 40 minutes).

We arrived at the island and I finally saw the damages I was told about. I was honestly shocked and upset. The water level had risen to the point that a small bridge was necessary in order to get from the dock to the island. It didn't take long once I stepped onto the island to notice the damaged houses, and in some places, the complete lack of houses. In one place, where several houses used to be, all that was there was a mass of water. After walking for 5 minutes I found several of the houses that had been washed away, piled up with the rest of the debris. Unlike Shiogama, this island still had a long way to go on the way to recovery.

Additional photos below
Photos: 12, Displayed: 12


No more houses :(No more houses :(
No more houses :(

To the left of the students is where several houses used to stand.

The island across from mine, was just as badly damaged

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