Day 16, Mar 15, Rikuzentakata-Ofunato 陸前高田-大船渡

I received a gift from Tokyo today. My sister, Eiffie, came to join my walk for a day. She got up at 4am to catch the early morning train. We met in Kesennuma and hit the trail at noon. We started in an area flattened by the tsunami in Rikuzentakata. There was a memorial room. We went in to pay regards. A vacant apartment building stood by the road. It was easy to discern the waterline. The fifth floor was cleared of damage. Windows and rails were shattered below that. Images of waves flooded our mind.



Eiffie has been living in Tokyo for 7 years. She works in trade company and speaks fluent Japanese. There were many connections that brought me back to Japan. My sister was a big one. She said the power lines were dancing like jumping ropes during the 2011 earthquake. The ground and the buildings made long, booming noise. She thought the aliens were finally here.

My sister is 13 years younger than me. I left for the US. when she was twelve. She joked that she didn’t know me well. I remember a lot of her childhood details, though. I enjoyed taking her out on a stroller. She enjoyed my motorcycle ride. The two of us went out often. Kite flying, arcade parlor, dragon boat watching. I was there for her first day in elementary school. She was adorable in her white shirt and blue skirt. Now there she is. A bright, intelligent business woman. She helps me with a lot of logistics in Japan. I thought of her as a sort of control center for this trip.

I realized the amount of time we spent together in Japan was way more than anywhere else combined in the last 20 years. We always made our dinner plans together in Tokyo, sometimes with her friends, others with mine. The farther   away we are from home, the closer we are to each other. We are like 2 migrant birds in open water, seeking shelter under each other’s wings. My family is not very good at expressing our affection in words. I know how much it means for her to be here.



私は、 私たち二人が日本で一緒に過ごした時間は、過去20年間に日本以外の場所で一緒に過ごした時間をすべて合わせたよりもずっと長いということに気がついた。私が東京にいる間は、 私たちは必ずディナーを一緒に食べる計画を立てる。ときには妹の友達と、ときには私の友達と。故郷から遠く離れれば離れるほど、私たちはお互いに近くなるのかもしれない。広い海の上を飛んでいく2羽 の渡り鳥が、お互いの翼の下に避難の場所を求めるように。私たちの家族は言葉で愛情表現をするのはあまり得意ではない。だが私は、彼女がここにやって来てくれたことがどれほど大きな意味をもつのか知っている。


We climbed over a low mountain into Ofunato Bay (大船渡灣). The air was crispy cold under the blue sky. The cape area was enclosed by ridges on both sides, like an embrace or open arms. We walked for 17 kilometers. The warmth of the sunlight made me feel lazy. For a moment I forgot about the rest of the trip. It was Saturday afternoon. I should enjoy the rare family time.


Japanese translation by Michiko Owaki    日本語訳:大脇美智子

Day 16, March 15th, GPS Track on Google Map, 17 kilometers

2 thoughts

  1. So glad that you’ve re-connected after all those years of separation. She is definitely not that little girl we always remember in our mind any more!

  2. Thanks for allowing me being a distraction.I enjoyed the walk so much and wish I could stay longer.Uh..,or should I say 1 day would be enough 😛 .The whole pilgrimage is so much tougher than a real marathon.
    Got on the train to Tokyo now,I think I did bring a little something back from this mini trip.
    謝謝你、親愛的哥哥。Be safe!

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