Arahama is an old section of Sendai. It is on the coast, where farms once butted right up to the sea. “Ara” means “rough”, and “hama” is “shore”. That is a perfectly matched name, where the ocean often shows its most angry face, as it did so ferociously on March 11, 2011.
People in Sendai proper are mostly pulling together their lives. Their daily focus has shifted from survival mode to arranging new homes or getting kids to play fewer computer games and do their homework. But at one extreme edge of Sendai, Arahama, things are very different. Wanting to know how things were faring, I decided to go to Arahama before March 11 to visit the area at my own pace.
Arahama is divided by a highway. On the side toward the mountains, farmhouses are surrounded by greenhouses and fields hungry for planting. Life is thriving, with a sense of continuity and of tradition.
Surprisingly, a demolished temple still claims holy ground, housing itself in a temporary shelter surrounded by ruins and debris. A priest stays there with his fully adorned altar, welcoming parishioners who need to talk or to pray.
Arahama and places along the coast of Tohoku are not the only ones that will hold Japan in their thoughts and prayers on March 11 this year. In far away Los Angeles’ Tokyo Town, for example, a three-day memorial event will also take place. One part of that program’s full agenda will be a documentary film called Kyō/Today/今日, made by a young filmmaker, Austin Auger. It presents the stories of six tsunami survivors. If you wish to see a preview of this very moving film, please go to the website below. Surely you will feel the courage and determination of those building a future out of the lessons and hardships of profound loss, coupled with ongoing community solidarity and love.