As I have mentioned before, several years ago Hiro and I took a motor biking trip up the Sanriku coastline from Matsushima to Kuji. Although the larger towns seemed to blend into a certain sameness, I was so charmed by the area. Little villages with people out mending fishing nets, pristine beaches, rivers that ran with no concrete lining the banks, a kokumin shukusha with a feast of freshly caught fish, tiny settlements dotted around isolated peninsula. Posters of Ichiro Ozawa (the DPJ heavy weight and nemesis of the current PM) all over the place that had me thinking with such good roads being built it's no wonder that he keeps getting re-elected...never mind the pork barreling and corruption charges.
I have been wondering a lot about how things are going there, wondering whether the places we stayed at, the sights we saw, the people we encountered survived.. There has been a lot in the news about Kesenuma and other places in Miyagi. I've seen stories on places as far north as Miyako, but nothing beyond... Rather than following the kosoku straight down from Hachinohe to Ashiro I wanted to take the coast road as far as Kuji or Miyako if possible to get some sense of the situation in places I hadn't been hearing about.
There were specific things I wanted to know.
- what was the situation between Hachinohe & Kuji & Miyako?
- how did Jodogahama fare?
-did the tsunami inundation zones signs accurately predict the areas that were flooded?
- how did the concrete barriers / tsunami walls stand up, did they offer any protection? did the smaller ones scatter?
- are the roads trafficable?
- how are the trains?
- how much clean up has been done?
- what could a person do to help there?
I took some photos, but basically decided not to stop to take photos. Partly the practicality of travelling more than 800km back to Tokyo in a day on a motorbike meant stopping was impractical. Also in part even though I was going with specific things I wanted to know, I felt like stopping to take photos while doing nothing to help was akin to being a ghoulish voyeur of misery and death.
I didn't get answers to most of my questions, but I did get some