Hanōkizawa-san tells me to stop the car, and from the backseat points at an anonymous granite cliffside ten meters away. “There,” he says. “That’s where it came from.” We are driving south along a paved road built against the cliffs that fall into the Pacific outside the Japanese village of Yoshihama. He wants to show Yu Wada-Dimmer, our interpreter, and me the origin of the tsunami ishi, or “tsunami stone” that appeared on Yoshihama’s beach when the high waters of the 1933 tsunami receded. The stone, once used as a warning to low-living villagers, was then buried by man in the sixties, only to be unburied when the ocean surged inland once more on the afternoon of Friday, March 11, 2011.
I can just barely discern the scar of a large boulder ripped clean from the crag, but it could be the former home of any rock that has since tumbled to a saline grave. Eighty-five years have passed since 1933. Hanōkizawa is now 89, which means he was a child, four or five, when it happened. “How do you know this is where it came from?” I ask. “Because my father told me,” he replies.