On March 11, 2011 at 2:46pm Japan experienced the largest earthquake in its recorded history. The epicentre, 80 mileseast of Sendai in the Miyagi Prefecture, and 231 miles northeast of Tokyo, was at at a depth of 15.2 miles and shook the whole country. At a magnitude of 8.9 it is the worlds fourth largest earthquake on record.
More deadly than the earthquake was the tsunami that followed.
One of the worst areas to be hit was the Miyagi Prefecture. Along the coast many small towns and villages were almost completely wiped out.
A particularly devastating story is that of Okawa Elementary School.
A small school of only 108 students, out of the 78 pupils awaiting to be evacuated that day, only four survived. While working for Japanese NGO, Ashinaga, I was taken for a 'tour' of the site and remains of the Okawa Elementary School. We pulled into a rubble car park adjacent to the school remains. The warm sun and faint singing of good luck charms, hung by relatives and friends of the deceased, were accompanied by a distinct, yet somehow calm, sense of great sorrow.
We were met by a quiet middle aged man named Takahiro Shito. Takahiro had lost his daughter, Chisato in the tsunami and was now seeking damages from the prefecture government along with 23 other families who had also lost children.