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Tsunami markers

22 April 2011

Tsunami is a Japanese word and they have been a feature of Japan's history for as long as it can be gleaned. Previous inhabitants left stone markers showing where the tsunami wave reached. They had various inscriptions warning of the link between tsunami and earthquakes (see www.nytimes.com/2011/04/21/world/asia/21stones.html?_r=2&ref=global-home… ) but modern Japanese people had been lulled into a false sense of security with sea walls and other structures designed to hold back water. The tsunami wave of 2011 just swept right over them as if they did not exist, and 29,000 people disappeared. Hundreds of tsunami stones with warning inscriptions dot the coastline of Japan, a silent testimony to past suffering. A tsunami in 1896 killed 22,000 people but there is evidence of one in 869 which left deposits of sand miles inland. I take this as a misprint otherwise it would have read 9th century as such a precise date as that appears impossible – but there may have been a way it was otherwise tagged to a particular year. One in 1611 washed 3 miles inland and a village was renamed Namiwake ( = Wave's Edge). 

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