Monday, May 16, 2011

Fleeting visit home in the evacuation zone and sad reunion with pet dogs.

There were the signs of summer, like rape flower fields and a wealth of mountain vegetables, in Kawauchi Village (Fukushima Pref.). Surrounded by peaceful landscape, the residents in protective clothing were collecting and stuffing their personal belongings, such as bankbooks, photographs, summer clothing, etc., into a plastic bag, feeling it was too much to bear.

Five buses carrying evacuees from Kawauchi Village who had been permitted short home visits left the Kawauchi Village Sonmin Taiiku Center (physical education facility) past 11 a.m. Another bus with about 20 members of the press in protective suits on board followed them.

They were breathless in the heat due to hermetically sealed protective suits and their goggles fogged due to perspiration. A 30-minute bus ride in the fresh green of the mountain range brought them to the Yoshinodawa region. Seventeen people from 10 households returned to their home in this area.

Mr. Shoichi Akimoto (60), taking shelter in Yabuki-machi of the prefecture, paused in front of his house and nervously got near the dog house. After the earthquake and tsunami, he returned to home to feed his two dogs a few times, but he hasn't been able to take care of them for the past 40 days. The purpose of this visit was to check upon the dogs.

“John,” he quietly called the name of one of his dogs, but had no response. When he got near, he found that the two dogs were dead with their body curled up. “You could have been saved. I’m truly sorry…” Mr. Akimoto was shaken by sobs as he was taking the remains of his dogs in his arms. He buried them in a straw-spread hole.

The Yomiuri Shimbun, Mary 10, 2011

Translated by Mikiko Yamashita

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