6 months ago, Ishinomaki was a vibrant fishing port. It’s long history, beautiful scenery extending onto the Oshika Peninsula, and great food saw tourists visiting from across Japan. But on March 11th, 2011, its seafront and all the small communities along the Oshika Peninsula were swept away by the incredible tsunami that followed the Great East Japan Earthquake.

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According to title="Japan tsunami follow up : casualty numbers reduce further" href="http://earthquake-report.com/2011/07/04/japan-tsunami-following-up-the-aftermath-part-16-june/" >CATDAT, as of June 16th, 5,867 people were killed or missing because of the tsunami – the highest number of fatalities among those towns and cities affected by the tsunami. title="2011 Tohoku earthquake observed tsunami heights" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File%3A2011_Tohoku_earthquake_observed_tsunami_heights_en.png" >The wave exceeded 7.6m, sweeping away 28,000 homes. This destruction was no doubt aided by the 76 cm (2.55 ft) subsidence generated by the earthquake. The combined destruction of the earthquake and tsunami left 6030 people living in evacuation centers in the city.

Ishinomaki is approximately 90 minutes from Sendai along the Sanriku Expressway. When you enter the city from the highway, it is difficult to spot anything wrong, but the clues are there: dirty, dusty streets, military generator trailers powering the combined City Hall and supermarket, missing curbstones… The signs are there, but they do nothing to prepare you for the moment that you turn the block to find that the building next to you has no front wall.

The gap between the destruction and life as usual is barely a block-thick in Ishinomaki. On one road you see children and shoppers, on the next one over, only construction vehicles and wreckage.

id="attachment_7186" class="wp-caption aligncenter" style="width: 585px"> href="http://newpacificinstitute.org/jsw/?attachment_id=7186" rel="attachment wp-att-7186"> class="size-large wp-image-7186" title="A seafront warehouse left isolated and tattered in Ishinomaki" src="http://newpacificinstitute.org/jsw/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/IMG_7815-575x291.jpg" alt="A seafront warehouse left isolated and tattered in Ishinomaki" width="575" height="291" /> class="wp-caption-text">A seafront warehouse left isolated and tattered in Ishinomaki