Sunday, July 21, 2013

Onagawa part 6 The teacup

 It has taken me a while to get around to writing up this small part of my holiday in Japan.
However it was, for me, the most significant and unexpected turn of events on the whole trip and bought the story of my interest in Onagawa and Longstone's Sakura CD project full circle.

I travelled to Japan for a holiday because I am interested in Japan and it's culture, I like Japanese food, I am a fan of classic Japanese cinema plus I have some good friends in Japan.
These were the same reasons that made myself and Longstone want to try and help raise some money in the wake of the 2011 tsunami and earthquake.
We made the album Sakura in a limited edition package and chose a small charity in Onagawa started by Mayumi Suzuki to donate the money to.
As part of my holiday I decided to visit Onagawa as I have explained in previous posts. 
Mayumi and her husband  were incredibly generous in meeting me and guiding me around the town .

On the second day of my visit to Onagawa, we returned from Enoshima Island by ferry and ate lunch at the fantastic Sushi restaurant in the harbour.
After lunch Mayumi took me on a stroll to the place where her parents house had stood before being destroyed by the Tsunami.
Mayumi's parents were lost in the Tsunami and have never been found.

This is Mayumi standing at the site of her childhood home, some of the building did survive the tsunami but has since been demolished. Mayumi showed me on the ground how the house had been laid out and where the entrance to her fathers photography studio would have been.

If you click the photo below to enlarge it you will see more easily a diagonal green tinged groove stretching across the rubble. The remains of Mayumi's parents home, the photo studio and surrounding dwellings have all now been demolished and the rubble removed . The ground has been levelled but this green groove is the original ground level .
Mayumi is a photographer and she documented the aftermath of the tsunami and the damage to her home town in two blogs and a book . I'll add links at the end of this post if you wish to see more.

While we were looking at the site and I was trying to understand the enormity of what was happening, Mayumi spotted something lying half buried in the small green groove . She pulled from amongst the stones a small piece of china. She said she had been to this site many times in the two years since the Tsunami but had not spotted this before.
It was one of her mothers teacups, from her favourite tea set and it was totally undamaged!

This little cup had survived the largest recorded earthquake in Japan's history, it survived a tsunami that was over 20 meters high when it swept over the house.
This cup survived the destruction of the house in that tsunami, the subsequent demolition of the remains and two years lying in the rubble .

Mayumi took the cup home and cleaned it up , then when I left for Tokyo and ultimately the U.K. she gave me the cup as a gift , a souvenir of my visit to Onagawa. 

So the story came full circle, such is the power of the media and the internet.
We made an album to raise money for survivors of the March 11th disaster, I saw a documentary on NHK World T.V. about a photographer who lost her parents in the Tsunami and had started a small charity in their home town of Onagawa. I had never heard of Onagawa before seeing that documentary.
A small amount of internet research lead me to Mayumi's blogs and I was able to contact her and arrange for our small donation to be transferred to her charity.
The original documentary contained footage of Mayumi's parents home just after the disaster and now I have visited the town and have a cup from that site at my home in the U.K. 
A treasured possession .

You can read Mayumi's blogs in English and Japanese at these links . If you look for the entries following after march 11th 2011 you can read more about the damage to Onagawa .

You can read about Sakura at my other blog 

Mayumi is a photographer and while we were looking for a sakura viewing spot near the town of Ishinomaki just a few miles from Onagawa she took my portrait by the only flowering tree we could find.

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At 8:57 am , Blogger Arch Mattibald said...

WOW! What a story!


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