Day 18, Mar 17, Okirai-Kamaishi 越喜來-釜石

I took a photo from the dining room in the morning, trying to make sense of Miyuki’s story last night. The house was indeed high above the sea level. But the tsunami can climb. Huge concrete boxes filled the sight. Constructions like this are gradually erasing the visible signs of the disaster.

朝、昨夜ミユキから聞いた話を思い出しながら、食堂から写真を撮った。この家は確かに海面からかなり高い場所に位置している。だが津波は文字通り「登る」のだ 。巨大なコンクリートの箱が視界いっぱいに建てられている。こうした建造物が、目に見える震災の爪痕を少しずつ消していっている。


I asked Miyuki to film. She was reluctant for a second, but decided to participate. We finished the shoot. I showed her picture on my camera. She laughed and slap my hand, like I did something naughty. She said she’s 70 years old. Was it a joke? She looked much younger. We bid farewell. She saw me off till I was on the road. I wish I could have stayed in guest houses like this instead of hotels for the entire trip. The human contact makes the experience so much richer.

ミユキにビデオを撮ってもらえないかと頼んでみた。彼女はしばらく迷っていたが、協力すると決心してくれた。私たちは撮影を終えた。私の撮った彼女の写真をカメラのスクリーンで見せると、ミユキは笑い、まるで私が何かいたずらなことをしたかのように、私の手をぱしんと叩いた。ミユキは、私70歳なのよ、と言った。まさか。冗談だろうか? そう思うほど、彼女はずっと若く見えた。私たちは別れの挨拶を交わした。ミユキは路上の私の姿が見えなくなるまで、ずっと私を見送っていた。この旅の間中、毎日、ホテルではなくてこういう宿に泊まれたらどんなにいいだろう。こうした個人とのふれあいは、旅の経験をずっと豊かにしてくれる。


Down the hill, I was drawn to a memorial. “Happy Birthday” sign hung on a stick with colorful ornaments. I tried to figure out if it was for a particular person. There were many offerings on the ground. Sake, cartoon portrait, bunny dolls. They were probably for all who perished here.

丘を降りていく途中、ある記念碑に目を惹き付けられた。”Happy Birthday”(お誕生日おめでとう) のサインが、カラフルな飾りつけと一緒に木の枝にかけてあった。これは誰か特定のひとりに向けられたものなのだろうか、それとも…?と考えながらヒントをさぐった。地上には数多くのお供え物が置かれていた。酒、似顔絵、うさぎのぬいぐるみ。おそらくこの記念碑はこの地で亡くなったすべての人に向けられたものなのだろう。


Right next to the memorial was a shed labeled “Tsunami Information House.” A rusty piano leaned on the outside. The interior walls were filled with photos of the tsunami and the life before the disaster. Among them was a broken clock from a local elementary school. Time stopped at three twenty. I put 200 yen in the donation box and picked up a pin. On the pin was a heart and the name of the village, Okirai (越喜來).




I started early today. The walk was going to be the longest. I did not feel rushed, but I had to pace myself. Different parts of my body have been taking turn sending complaints on this trip. Today was my shoulders and pinching pain on the left ankle that lasted many days. On top of the long distance, I had to climb over 3 mountains. They are not too high, but added a considerable amount of stress on my feet.

I saw a tunnel with no sidewalk. “Great”, I thought, “What would I expect?” Where there are mountains, there are tunnels. It was longer than the one a few days ago. With today’s distance I can not afford to detour. So I went through. I checked the map and spotted a really long one ahead. 2300 meters! I took a break and pray that there would be a sidewalk. The answer was no. I fantasized some driver would stop me and say “It’s too dangerous! Let me give you a ride!” That didn’t happen. I took a deep breath and went in.


歩道のないトンネルに出くわした。「上等だ」と私は思った。山があれば、トンネルがある。分かりきったことだ。このトンネルは2、3日前に通ったものよりも長かった。だが今日歩かなければならない道のりを考えると、迂回する余裕はない。私はこのトンネルを通り抜けた。地図を確認すると、これよりもさらにずっと長いトンネルがこの先にあるのに気づいた。2300メートル! 私はしばらく足を止め、そのトンネルには歩道がありますようにと祈った。だが答えはノーだった。トンネルの前で誰かが車を止めて、「危険すぎるよ!乗せてやろうか?」と言ってくれるかもと空しい期待を抱いたが、それもなかった。私は深呼吸をしてそのトンネルの中に入って行った。



I was a little nervous a few hundred meters in. The air was thick with dusts and car fume. I was breathing heavily, wondering if there would be enough oxygen deep inside. An emergency return point showed up. If that was a hint, I didn’t take it. I tried to calm down, telling myself it was all in my head. The midway point was helpful. I knew the remaining 1100 meters was doable. It took me half an hour to pass.





Right after exiting the tunnel I saw a giant Bodhisattva sculpture in the distance. It was a comforting sight. I have to say I am getting used to tunnels after this one. I still hate it, but it does not phase me as much. Please don’t try this at home. A number of trucks got dangerously close today. I did not do it for the excitement. I thought the continuation of the foot journey meant something for the project. I ended up crossing six of them today. It was a day for the record.



Note: The feature image today was Kamaishi Port at night. It was full moon yesterday.


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

Day 18, March 17th, GPS Track on Google Map, 26 kilometers


2 thoughts

  1. Arthur – I am so glad and relieved that you survived all the tunnels and the longest walk with 3 mountains to go over. You are truly an amazing trooper. Praying for you for the rest of the walk.

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