TSUNAMI REFLECTIONS: OTSUCHI REMEMBERED by Charles Pomeroy – BOOK REVIEW

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* I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

TSUNAMI REFLECTIONS: OTSUCHI REMEMBERED by Charles A. Pomeroy

For those of us living in North America, who have little to no contact with the people of Japan, it is difficult to visualize exactly where the tsunami hit on that fateful March day in 2011. The images we all saw on television while watching the international news will not soon be forgotten. However as we go about our daily lives most of us give little thought to what the long term impact of the tsunami has been on the coastal villages of Japan. Charles Pomeroy’s book will help to bring this disaster back into the forefront if people’s hearts and minds.

This book contains maps which highlight the affected areas and focus on the author’s adopted hometown of Otsuchi. The maps give the reader a sense of place which in turn gives the reader a sense of perspective.

Charles Pomeroy was born in the United States and is originally from Beloit, Wisconsin. He joined the U.S. Navy at the age of seventeen in 1947. He participated in the Korean War and in 1955 he left the Navy to pursue a higher education. He then moved to Japan on a student visa. After graduating he eventually began a career as a successful journalist, retiring from that career in 2004. Upon retirement he moved with his wife Atsuko to her hometown of Otsuchi and also maintained an apartment in Tokyo.

As luck (or fate) would have it, Charles and Atsuko were staying at their Tokyo apartment on March 11, 2011 when the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck Japan’s coast.

In the first chapter the author uses excerpts from ‘real-time’ emails sent to and from family and friends during the first few days following the disaster. This is an effective method for communicating the growing concern of those effected. I was riveted by the author’s descriptions of the situation and his concern for family and friends left behind in Otsuchi.

This book does not focus solely on the tsunami and it’s devastation. In fact the author spends several chapters describing the history and culture of the area. He has included many pre-tsunami pictures of his home, it’s surrounding gardens as well as pictures taken at local cultural events. It is these pictures and their accompanying descriptions that give a true sense of what was lost when the town was destroyed.

Yes, there are stories and pictures included of the disaster as it happened, but the author is still somehow able to convey hope in the midst of tragedy. He has included many internet links to videos and pictures that can be clicked on by readers. A few of the links are no longer active, but there are several links that are still ‘live’. These include a link of a video taken on the mountainside above Otsuchi that it is impossible to watch without feeling the terror of those watching the water sweep away not only buildings and vehicles, but also washing away people who were attempting to flee to higher ground. More photos and videos show the devastation days, weeks and months afterward.

This book is not only an accounting of a natural disaster. It is also a memoir of the author’s life in Otsuchi and an accounting of what has been achieved so far in the reconstruction as well as the story of just how much is still to be done.

This book should be added to everyone’s must read list. It is a vivid reminder of the power of Mother Nature and of the resilience and spirit of the people of Otsuchi, Japan.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to anyone who is interested in a personal perspective on the tsunami of March 11, 2011 and it’s impact on one family and their community.

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