Matsushima’s fate

Almost two weeks ago, I wrote “Remembering Sendai,” a column about the city in Japan where I lived 36 years ago. Sendai is the city closest to the epicenter of the massive earthquake and resulting tsunami. I grieved about the people I had known there, most of whom I’ve lost touch with, the lovely city I remembered fondly, and Matsushima.

Now I know more.

Matsushima, close to Sendai, was one of the three most scenic spots in Japan -- and that’s saying a lot. It was a cove on the coast north of Sendai, filled with small to tiny islets, each covered with wind-bent pines. Imagine hundreds of the most beautiful bonsai trees you’ve ever seen, but created by nature and life-sized.

I said it had to have been destroyed.

Today I received an e-mail from a reader who saw my column. Mr. Jiro Masumi, who works for automotive supplier Toyoda Gosei Co., forwarded an article from the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper about the fate of Matsushima. (Thank you, Mr. Masumi.)

Matsushima is gone, as I had feared. But there’s more to the story.

As the islands of Matsushima were destroyed, they absorbed the deadly force of the tsunami. In the town of Matsushima, only one person died. In the next town over, 650 died.

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