Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Rikuzen Takata (10) the school at Otomo

At Otomo we took our lunch break in the shade of the former Junior High School.  The school was inundated to the second floor.  The clock out front was stopped at 3.13,  twenty seven minutes after the earthquake. It was very moving.  Books scattered around. A class list with photos next to a map of the
evacuation route for disasters. There were pictures retrieved and rehung, trophies. Graduation was scheduled for the following day and the program was written on the blackboard. Students of the graduating class had come back to write on the blackboard - a tradition of Japanese students.

My classmates had taken the day off because they are up there for longer than me. I made a decision not to take photos of the students messages. I didn't know how many students there had survived or not... and I wanted to be respectful.   Talking to one of my classmates that evening,  I got a different perspective on it..."They wrote on the blackboard because they want people to read it"...   Very true.  They want their stories told -  they don't want to be forgotten.  There are some pictures here of the students' messages.  Kato san, one of the other volunteers who was up there, kindly shared some of his photos with me.  He took them on a previous trip when he was working in the same area.

It was a very small school and I am sure it won't be rebuilt. The students and teachers who would have gone there this academic year will have been merged into another school. I hope they are doing well.  In the elementary school next door there are messages of encouragement from across Japan hung in the gymnasium.  The new floor suggests that the tsunami made re-flooring a necessity.  The support is appreciated.  May it continue.

The JHS is no longer being used. The school gym is filled with salvaged
fishing gear.

The clock stopped at 3.13pm.  Twenty seven minutes after
the earthquake struck. The clock is above the height of
the tsunami and I assume that it is powered electrically.
If so, there must have been power after the earthquake.


The corridor of the top floor

The high water line in the stairwell between the first and second floors.
(or ground and first if you count that way).
Pictures, drawn by students retrieved and rehung,
excellence plaques leaned against the walls under the mirrors.
(Kato san's photo)

The entrance.  There were still some shoes in the shoe boxes.
(Japanese students change to inside shoes for being in the
school buildings.) (Kato san's photo)

The Graduation program in the staffroom (Kato san's photo)

In Japan there is a tradition of graduating students covering the
blackboard with wishes, thanks etc messages.  These have been
written since the earthquake, presumably by some members of the graduating class coming back.
On the edge of the photo, but not captured fully is a message to three students
"Zettai ni wasurenai" - we will never forget you.....   Presumably the three didn't survive the
tsunami.  (Kato san's photo)

Messages of encouragement from Ichinoseki, from inland Iwate prefecture.


Lily said...

I seriously have no words, just a sorrow and clenched heart.

Cecilia said...

But the sunflowers from Ishinomaki, how cool are they. It must make a difference to know people care.

Lilian said...