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'The gods may have punished us,' Japanese woman worries


Kuni Takahashi

Fukuko Hatakeyama, whose house was washed away in the tsunami, talks about her loss as she stands in debris in Miyagi prefecture on March 29.

Kuni Takahashi, a photojournalist based in Mumbai, returned to his native Japan after the earthquake and tsunami. He was born in Sendai, one of the most devastated towns on the northern coast.

"Did you find anything?” I ask the woman when I see her digging through the debris with her cane in Kesennuma, Miyagi prefecture.  

“I had 4,500,000 yen (US$53,000) wrapped in special cloth but it’s gone," says 80-year-old Fukuko Hatakeyama, clearly upset.

She'd been saving the money, wrapped in fire-proof material, for years to leave it to her son.  

Her house, flattened by the massive tsunami and the remains ravaged by fire, is gone. Debris is piled and scattered for more than half-a-mile. Her son and daughter-in-law, who live in a nearby evacuation center, tell her not to go back to the area because it is dangerous with debris.  But she sneaks out anyway.

“I come here every day to look for it but I can’t find anything. Now there is nothing I can leave to my son when I die," she says.

She adds quietly: “There are too many people on the earth messing with nature…the gods may have punished us.”


More photos from Kuni Takahashi on photoblog.

‘I come here every day trying to spend time with my wife who I couldn't save'

'I still keep calling my sister's phone, hoping she may pick it up'