At the time, the 3,000 Fudai villagers despised the $US30 million (in today’s money) floodgate when the now-deceased mayor built it in the ’70s, but after March’s devastating tsunami, they’re thankful to still have their lives and homes intact.
Like a giant wall that surrounds the village, which lies about 515km north of Tokyo, it stands 15m high and 205m wide, and took a team 12 years to build. However much the villagers disliked it when the then-mayor Kotaku Wamura proposed the construction after seeing the ruin other tsunamis caused, there has been much celebrating since the natural distaster occurred on March 11.
Not that they escaped the damage entirely. The tsunami waves actually managed to crash over and break the floodgate, measuring around 20m at one point, but it acted as a barrier for the main force of the waves.
Wamura wrote of the destruction he saw to the village of Fudai in 1933’s tsunami: “When I saw bodies being dug up from the piles of earth, I did not know what to say. I had no words.” The tsunami of 1933 killed 439 people in Fudai, but flashfoward to this year’s tsunami, and only one resident remains missing.
Despite facing a lot of opposition when building the floodgate, many villagers have been visiting Wamura’s grave following the tsunami. No doubt the words he spoke at his retirement in 1987 have been ringing in the villagers’ ears since: “even if you encounter opposition, have conviction and finish what you start. In the end, people will understand.” [AP and Iwate-NP and SeattlePI via @Hirokotabuchi]