Day 1, Feb 28th, Minamisoma 南相馬

I wanted to start my walk from Yasaka Shrine by the ocean, some 20km north of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. It was established and dedicated to the victim of the tsunami. I took some photos and saw a graveyard nearby. Many of the headstones and structures were swept away. Public sign indicated that restoration is underway. The graveyard then became my launching point. I thought it was appropriate.





I went north and soon found a coal-fire power plant. Perhaps electricity is going to be the theme of this trip. There are signs about the Tohoku Electric Power Company everywhere, either pointing to their facility or as part of the outreach program.




I have to say the last thing I would expect in these waters is a surfer. Just north of the fire power plant, on an abandon swimming beach, I spotted 10 of them. How incredible! I approached them and asked to take photos. They agreed without emotion. Maybe it’s rude both for me to ask and for them to decline. I tentatively asked one of them to shoot a video for me. She became my first local participant!



It turns out that Fuko Obaru is an artist. She graduated from Tokyo University of Fine Arts and moved to this area 6 years ago. She was close to the nuclear power plant when the tsunami hit. It burned for a month, she said, and it was scary. I asked her if she’s concerned about the radiation in the water. She drew a question mark on my notebook. With quite determination, she said she found inspiration from the ocean for her art. Her heart was calm whenever she’s in the water. Perhaps a surfer would understand.


The Japanese like the aesthetics and the implied perseverance of a lone standing pine tree (ㄧ本松). They are in the news as symbols of miraculous survival or recovery. I walked by 2 of them. One unfortunately is dead. I think I might see more on the road.




Finished the first walk, my body was in shock. Jet lag plus physical fatigue. My mind was not attached to the body. Took me an hour to plug in all the equipment for charging. I slowly gained my consciousness back and started to make calls for hotel reservation the next day. They are all booked! The hotels are filled with reconstruction workers. Then I found one. The voice on the other side was cordial and patient. We had difficulty understanding each other, but finally confirmed it (with a meal plan!). It’s the first reservation by myself. Very proud.


Japanese translation by Kurumi Kido   日本語訳:城戸久瑠実

Day 1, Feb 28, GPS Track on Google Map, 18 kilometers

One thought

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *