In June 2011 I travelled with a Japanese team that were there just a few days after the disaster. Taking fuel and supplies, counselling and helping people throughout the affected area. We travelled along the coastline where the tsunami had struck, zig zagging inland when the roads were blocked, the ruthless waves had destroyed almost everything. The scene then was shocking; debris, twisted cars and remnants of what used to be homes.
Since then I’ve been fortunate to visit the area by bike in the years following to see what is a slow but real recovery, both in the people and the place itself — where progression is taking place after many years of restoring what was for so long a vast emptiness — rice fields are full, the roads and bridges have been reconstructed and fishing boats are back on the ocean. With as many as 36,000 people who lost their homes still living in temporary housing, however, things are far from normal.