Hello from Mt. Koya! We have been all over Japan in the past couple of days traveling by bus and train. We just came from Sendai, which is a city on the eastern coast that was badly destroyed in the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami in 2011. In contrast to the temples we visited on the first days that were religion based, Sendai is the first commemoration site we went to.
We took a bus to the coastal outskirts of the city of Sendai. When we first arrived on the city perimeters, the magnitude of destruction caused by the tsunami could be seen all around us. There were only 2-3 buildings that are still left standing and all the rest were destroyed. We could even see the only remains of a house of tiles from a bathroom floor of a house. It's hard to believe this used to be a thriving town on the Japanese coast five years ago; but now, all that's left are the painful reminders of what happened to this city.
A few days earlier, we had dinner with some students and professors from the local university. Orion, a professor at the university, told us about his experience with the earthquake. He said that the buildings and the ground shook violently for several minutes. Japanese citizens are used to frequent earthquakes, but Orion knew that this one was different when the windows started to break and shatter. Debris was falling in the streets and inside buildings so no one was safe anywhere they went.
The impact of the tsunami is still very present today. It hit almost five years ago but construction crews are still there cleaning up the mess. Over 23,000 people were killed or injured and many had to find new homes. However, this number of casualties could have been much higher if it wasn't for Japan's incredible emergency warning system to save people's lives.
After seeing a disaster site for the first time in person, it gave me an awareness of the tragedies that I would only hear about in the news. We should remember and reflect on the past and use the newfound wisdom to build a better future.