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The 1,000-Year-Old Message That Saved a Village

Hugh Pickens writes (1984118) writes | more than 2 years ago

Japan 0

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Disaster researcher José Holguín-Veras writes in the LA Times that when he went to Japan after the Tohoku earthquake to identify lessons that could benefit future disaster-response operations, he discovered a message sent across 50 generations that saved the residents of a fishing village called Murohama. "A millennium ago, the residents of Murohama, knowing they were going to be inundated, had sought safety on the village's closest hill. But they had entered into a deadly trap," writes Holguín-Veras. "A second wave, which had reached the interior of the island through an inlet, was speeding over the rice paddies from the opposite direction." The waves collided at the hill and killed those who had taken refuge there. To signify their grief and to advise future generations, the survivors erected a shrine. Holguín-Veras asked a community leader if "a thousand years ago" was a figure of speech and to his astonishment, village elders had reviewed the local temple's records and found reports pinpointing a large tsunami 1,142 years ago that coincided with the massive Jogan Jishin earthquake of 869. On March 11, 2011 residents relied on the lesson that had been transmitted generation to generation for 1,000 years. "We all knew the story about the two tsunami waves that collided at the shrine," and instead of taking refuge on hill with the shrine, they took the time to get to high ground farther away and watched two tsunami waves colliding at the hill with the shrine, just as they did long ago. "I know that science and engineering save lives. But in this instance neither did much to help," says Holguín-Veras. "Reaching out from the distant past, long-gone ancestors — and a deeply embedded story — saved their children.""

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