Day 4: Watanabe-san / by airi katsuta

One of our missions for this trip was to give out the hand knitted clothing that the wonderful people of Japanese American Citizens League had made to the senior homes in Ishinomaki. So we contacted the nearby senior home to schedule an appointment for an interview. But when Riho talked to them over the phone, they said that they were not affected by the tsunami at all, so they would rather have us give the knitted clothing to a senior home that is more deserving. We wanted to hear their story, tsunami-damaged or not, because everyone was affected by this tragic event, one way or another.

This senior home is called Wakou-en. And this is the head manager, Watanabe-san. He said that on 3-11, he wasn't at the senior home or even in Ishinomaki. He couldn't get back until 5 days later, but the tsunami didn't reach the building because it was on a hill, but the earthquake had caused damage to the water pipes beneath the structure.

He showed us a book with aerial photographs of Ishinomaki, before and after. Since we are not familiar with the area, he showed us where everything is in detail and even gave us the book.

"Even if it's in the same city of Ishinomaki, the amount of damage is different in every area. Ishinomaki combined 5 towns, so it's pretty broad," Watanabe-san said. When we asked how this senior home have changed after the tsunami, he said "a lot of our patients have dementia, so most of them don't even know what happened. They didn't actually see the water. It shook a lot from the earthquake, so some walls have cracks but it's not very obvious from what people can see." He said very apologetically.

He showed us several other senior homes that had a lot of damage on the map.

"It hasn't changed so much for us. Sorry about that. But I'll introduce you to other senior homes that I know that suffered a lot. Let me give them a call."

We've been blessed to meet people like him all over the city of Ishinomaki. Everyday, someone lends a hand to us. We're very thankful.