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In the aftermath of the triple disaster that roiled Japan exactly 10 years ago, the nation seemingly came together and projected a sense of unity — symbolized by the word kizuna, or bond. But the kizuna narrative may not have withstood the test of time, writes Rob Gilhooly.

Some survivors feel distanced from the rest of Japan; some feel others don’t understand. Some were able to rebuild. And yet for everyone, the disaster is their own very personal experience, and everyone’s loss is different — family members, homes, businesses, communities, ways of life. Traveling along the Tohoku coast, Gilhooly hears some of these stories.

On this week’s Deep Dive podcast, staff writer Alex Martin recounts his recent visit to Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture, 10 years after he first went there, to reconnect with residents he spoke with in the aftermath of the quake and find out how the city is recovering from the tsunami.

Deep Dive podcast, Episode 85: Ishinomaki — A tsunami-ravaged city, 10 years on | THE JAPAN TIMES; REUTERS PHOTO
Deep Dive podcast, Episode 85: Ishinomaki — A tsunami-ravaged city, 10 years on | THE JAPAN TIMES; REUTERS PHOTO

Also on Deep Dive, Reuters’ Mari Saito tells host Oscar Boyd about the “phone of the wind” in Iwate where tsunami survivors can grieve for those they have lost. Many say the unconnected phone line helps them keep in touch with their loved ones and gives them some solace as they grapple with their grief.

More than 18,000 people died or were declared missing after the quake and tsunami disaster, which hit Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate prefectures especially hard. In a reminder of the grim toll, the remains of a woman missing since that day were discovered just last month on the Miyagi coast.

Retired forensic officer Shuichi Abe has made it his mission to reunite unidentified remains from the disaster with bereaved families seeking closure. Abe has a gift for recreating faces based on just recovered skulls and forensic data. As the Kahoku Shimpo reports, his remarkable drawings have led to the identification of 24 people lost in the 3/11 disasters, and counting.

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