A small, lazy fishing village on the northeastern coast of Japan, Rikuzentakata was the kind of town memorialized in the sentimental “enka” pop songs of the postwar 60s and 70s. The graceful cedar trees which lined the harbor helped to shield the town from the cool sea breezes that constantly blew in from the Pacific Ocean. Behind the trees, a 20-foot high concrete embankment with gigantic flood gates spanned the bay-shore and gave the citizens of Rikuzentakata assurance of protection in the event of a tsunami, the ocean waves frequently triggered by earthquakes.
Before moving to Franklin and reporting for Macon County News, I lived in Japan for almost eight years. During that time, I had the privilege of visiting Rikuzentakata on numerous occasions.