When the magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami hit the Tohoku and Kanto areas in Japan on 11 March 2011, the lives of some of our HI family members were tragically lost from the two hostels that were swept away in the Tohoku region, Paila Matsushima and Rikuzen Takada.
Last spring, PraveePeter Komolkanchana (HI Regional Development Coordinator) visited the ruined site of Paila Matsushima YH in Miyagi Prefecture, where the life of a Hostel Manager’s wife was taken by the tsunami last year. The city of Higashi-Matsushima was mostly washed away by the rage of the tsunami. Some of the families were already beginning to move back into their broken homes, while some were choosing to leave their beloved hometown for higher grounds where they felt safer and further away from the sea.
Not far from Higashi-Matsushima (Miyagi Prefecture) is Rikuzen Takada Youth Hostel. Before the 3.11 tsunami the hostel was a very popular destination with its forest of pine trees being a main attraction for visitors. People came here for camping, outdoor activities, and to enjoy the surrounding nature. All pine trees were swept away by the mighty tsunami except for one tree left in front of the youth hostel. Locals and the media have named it ‘Kiseki no Ipponmatsu’ (The Miracle One Pine Tree) as the hope of rebirth and recovery to empower spirits of people to bring back their peaceful community as it was before.
Japan’s Tohoku region is now ready to stand tall again and is looking for the support from all travellers to help rebuild Japan’s economy and the quality of life for the people who live and work there. For this reason, one year on, Japan: Tohoku is our Destination of the Month.