I cannot describe today easily. We drove into Otsuchi and I had a camera in my face the whole way through town. It was incredibly difficult. It’s one thing to see the pictures, another to really understand the scope of the loss by being there. Otsuchi looks like a giant landfill. There is no better way to describe it.
I saw Ken-san at the Elementary School. I gave him a pair of jeans, a Red Seal Ale cap and my 12-string guitar. He lost his guitar collection in the tsunami. We then met with Vice Mayor Tobai-san and I gave my speech. I was afraid that I’d forget it when the time came, but I didn’t. I gave him the photo of Mayor Kato and he was moved. He said that he would keep it in his office for a couple of weeks but that he wanted to give it to the Mayor’s wife, that it would mean a lot to her. I also saw Lucky Boy and Mitsuko there.
After that I saw Ito-san, the school superintendent. He hugged me and became emotional. I will give the letters to the kids and give the speech to him tomorrow.
Kinuko and Sachiko met us there. We all (Ken-san, Mitsuko, Kinuko, Sachiko and the CBS crew) went to Kiri-Kiri to have lunch. Akiko came later. When I gave her the photos of Chiaki, she was overwhelmed with emotion. She was so touched by the album of Yamazaki-san. It meant so much to her. She said they were her treasures.
After lunch, Mitsuko kidnapped me and we (very briefly) visited Obarra-san, Hujii-san and Kiri-san. Kiri and her husband now have a pharmacy in a doctor’s office. While we were there we happened to run into Machiko Kariya. It was the best surprise.
Mitsuko took me to a shelter where they go to take baths 2-3 times a week. Lucky Boy was there and I met Dr. Ueta. I gave some candy to the children there. Dr. Ueta described how he had been rescued by helicopter from the roof of his building.
After that, it was time to meet the news crew. We met at City Hall and I had an interview with Bob Simon. We talked about what happened that day, how the Mayor sent his staff to the roof and gave his life to secure their safety.
We then went down near where the rail station was and did another interview with Bob. Although there has been a lot of clean up done, there is still a lot of debris here. They had us walk along a gravel path with the tsunami gate behind us.
Last, we drove back through town with the camera man filming us from the back of the van in front of us.
This has been the longest day of my life.