Nearly 7 years ago I landed in the tsunami decimated town of Yuriage and have been returning ever since, first documented here. Since the tsunami that struck on March 11, 2011 the town has been totally transformed rendering it unrecognizable by the people who used to live there.
Japan is grappling with what millions through the world are facing now and will be for many more years as the effects of climate change will claim more land along the worlds coasts.
The decisions to rebuild here were contentious. Although the raising of the city is supposed to protect it from future tsunamis, the sea is also rising because of the changing climate. When the next tsunami does come there will be all the more water in the system so raising the land here is commiserate, at best, leaving many not to want to move back. As an indication that those who raised this land are aware of the risk of induction each new building has a tsunami escape route where people are instructed to seek shelter on the building’s roofs.
Many of Yuriage’s residents were relocated to the neighboring town of Natori which also oversees Yuriage. In Natori there were town hall meetings where Yuriage residents were encouraged to attend, but after a series of hearings city planers did what they wanted to do without giving enough consideration from the community. The result is that Yuriage now is a series of urban apartment buildings that are raised 10 meters over what used to be small one and two story traditional homes in this small port town.