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Hiroko Ishikawa, 58, has lived in Hisanohama all her life. The massive tsunami of 3.11 swept through her small coastal town, killing 50 people and crushing hundreds of houses. Her home was just far enough inland to avoid the tsunami’s reach. The town was asked to evacuate voluntarily and she relocated to Tokyo. In the bigger city, her new neighbors shunned her, fearing she carried radiation and could contaminate them.


After only one month in Tokyo, Ishikawa moved back to the only place she felt she belonged -- her home in Hisanohama. She has since devoted her life to telling the story of her community’s tragic experiences to outsiders who visit. Ishikawa feels it is her duty to protect the town and her community, and storytelling is the one way she knows how to do that.

“For the first time [telling the story] I cried. I’m used to it now, but sometimes I cry still,” Ishikawa said.

Top photo and text by Tate Samata - Bottom photo by Parker Seibold

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