Japan Journal #4: Frozen in Time

The building looked broken, damaged to its core, and almost reminiscent of the sorrow and suffering that took place on March 11, 2011.

It was as if the house was frozen in time and had not aged a day. I could just see the scene happening before my eyes as I stood in front of the entrance that once welcomed guests and family members into a warm atmosphere.

Chaos, fear, panic. As I observed the cracks and holes of the concrete and various remnants of the disaster, I couldn't imagine what must have gone through the minds of the residents when the earthquake shook the house for what probably seemed like the longest five minutes of their lives. How did they feel when they were told that the anticipated three-meter tsunami turned out to be ten meters instead? Everything that once held some kind of importance or memory, swallowed and gone in a matter of minutes.

On the staircase of the doorway were sneakers, miraculously left as a complete pair. Inside the walls were a broken toilet, clothes hangers, and even toys. I wondered whether these objects had landed there with the waves or had been a part of the house. But by the looks of their condition, they had clearly endured a traumatic experience, too.

On March 11, 2011, what was I doing? While the people of Yamada and many other cities throughout Japan had to brace for their lives, I am pretty positive that what I had done that day was nothing memorable or special.

This house reminded me hat everyday is valuable. All my life, I had taken so much for granted; I don't appreciate the small everyday things in my life on a constant basis. That is one lesson I took away from my whole trip to Yamada as a whole. Every person I met told me the same thing: Live like you'll die tomorrow. 

Despite being devastated by nature's forces, the house still stands strong today, demanding its identity in this town. The house has been left as a reminder for that day, and I hope that many visitors like me are changed by its everlasting presence.