A bus stop bench, in a rather forlorn state, is situated against the backdrop of an idyllic, seaside landscape in Ohara, Miyagi Prefecture, a remote area devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The sight of the small community on Tohoku's Oshika Peninsula was too sad for Caroline Pover, a British writer and publisher who has made Japan her home since 1996.

"Buses run, but you don't want to stand and wait there because water is coming up, and it's cold and windy," especially for the community's mostly elderly residents, Pover, 41, said. "I wanted to do something for people probably looking forward to a quieter time in their later years and make it a bit easier for them."