The truth is that what happened on that day, at that moment, March 11, 2011. That’s for sure.
However, we have memories of the peaceful “everyday life” that existed before the earthquake. From the school building, which still shows the scars of the tsunami, it is clear that the disaster occurred in our ordinary life.
For me, Ukedo Elementary School is not a place of sadness, but my alma mater that brings back precious memories. The school loved by the local people will always be a place for my peace of mind.
– The situation of the evacuation “I thought of the tsunami as if it were inside the movie.” –
As the earthquake shook me more and more, I took deep breaths not to panic. I heard a loud crashing sound that I’d never heard before. While evacuating from the classrooms to the schoolyard, I was surprised to see the shelves collapse.
I hardly remember moving from the schoolyard to Mt. Ohira. However, I later heard from my teacher that we older students run holding hands with younger students and encouraged them without any advice from our teachers while evacuating to Mt. Ohirayama. At that time, even as an elementary school student, I knew that a tsunami was a big wave coming in with great force and that I was running away from the tsunami at that time.
However, I couldn’t imagine what a real tsunami would be like. I thought that the water would disappear from the town and I would be able to go back to my house soon. These wishes did not come true, and we were forced to live in the evacuation areas for a while, and the Ukedo area was no longer inhabitable.
– Thoughts and Wishes for the Hometown –
There’s nothing here anymore, but there were many houses and buildings, and the local community was very close to each other before. Ukedo will always be my precious and nostalgic hometown, and I have many memories at the School.
For example, at the event called “Art of Sand”, we created a large artwork on the beach. I’m proud of this event because that is only possible at a school so close to the ocean.
As for another episode, there was a lot of interaction beyond the boundaries of the grades. The number of students was small, with one class per grade. The classroom next door was another grade’s classroom, so we sometimes went to the first grade’s classroom and played together during lunch break!!
What I hope about my alma mater, which is also a place full of my memories but has become remains of the earthquake, is to become a place where former residents in the Ukedo area can return to our hometown.
Now that the school is open to the public, so I would be happy if old classmates who moved away from Ukedo can come back here. I hope that the school will become a place where local people can casually drop by anytime and talk about their old memories to reconnect with each other through this building that only remained in our hometown.
Nao Takahashi (pseudonym)
At the time of the earthquake, she was a sixth-grade student at Ukedo Elementary School. Currently, she is working at a facility related to the disaster.