Sunday, May 31, 2015Sunday, May 31, 2015

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Coastal towns picking up the pieces a year after triple disasters in Japan

This story first appeared in The Straits Times on March 10, 2012

Published on Mar 11, 2014 5:37 PM
STARTING OVER: Mr Kote Sato, 52, lost his home and liquor shop business when the tsunami swept through Utatsu in Minami-sanriku, Miyagi prefecture. But now with the help of friends and an NGO, he has started another shop in a covered market that sits on a hill behind the village school. -- ST FILE PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

TOHOKU - The street that runs from the train station and Ishinomaki town hall to the broad river that bisects this town – one of the hardest hit by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in north-east Japan – is showing signs of recovery.

One year after the most devastating natural disaster to strike Japan in living memory, the silt, crushed cars, boats and debris of every description that was deposited here by the tidal wave have been cleared away and shop window glass has been replaced.

Some stores are back in business. A florist with colourful selections in the window stands next to a women’s wear boutique and a small electrical store. A little way further along the road are a cafe and a shoe shop.

The effort is brave, but there are still many stores that are boarded up and big gaps where buildings that were too badly damaged were simply pulled down.

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!