“Communities Struggle to Rebuild Shattered Lives on Japan’s Coast” on Japan Focus

Kanno Mitsuhide (36) is standing on a pile of muddy firewood where his home used to be. He has come to salvage what he can and found a single object: a hibachi, a traditional Japanese charcoal heater. “We could only locate the house because of this,” he says, pointing at an old green water pump still clinging stubbornly to solid ground. The small family car is 200 meters away, upside down, across the ruined landscape of Rikuzen-Takata.

A few days ago, Mr. Kanno gave up the search for his father, Ken (68), who was washed out to sea. “We think he was in his car, trying to reach relatives when the tsunami came,” he explains. “Everybody ran up there,” he says, nodding up toward a temple. His mother has gone to the local makeshift morgue to identify the bloated, partly decomposed body of her husband. A few days ago the police showed her the wrong corpse. “She was terribly upset.”

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