The other day I had the opportunity to visit the vicinity of Sendai Airport, an area devastated by the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami. Two things that came to my attention immediately were the Hill and the new cemetery.
Iwanuma city has started on a plan to make the area a memorial park. According to the plan, rubble from the disaster will make up about 60 percent of the construction materials. They will build a museum where people can learn about tsunamis. The Hill will serve as an emergency evacuation center. The park will be a special place that co-exists with the natural environment and emphasizes biodiversity.
I was so encouraged to realize that this plan of Iwanuma is good for a thousand years! Although almost everything was destroyed in this area, the inner strength of people prevails. This is true not only for the citizens of Iwanuma but also for their supporters worldwide.
Last June about 4,500 people participated in a ceremony for planting 30,000 trees, demonstrating that the earthquake and tsunami could not destroy their spirit.
On my visit, every gravestone in the cemetery shined black, and I remembered the poem “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep.” I added my prayer to it: “I am a thousand winds that blow / I am the softly falling snow / I am the gentle showers of rain / … I am the soft starlight at night / I am in the flowers that bloom / I am in the birds that sing / I am in each lovely thing / Do not stand at my grave and cry / … I did not die.”
All the victims of the earthquake and the tsunami now in the invisible world are watching over the area, protecting all of us and wanting to be with us forever, I believe.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.