Murohama enshrined [The reply]
What keeps alive a story that could keep you alive? On Sunday, José Holguín-Veras' article, "The 1,000-year-old warning," explained how a venerable tale led the people of Murohama, on the east coast of Japan, to safety after last year's Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. The ancient story told of a massive earthquake and tsunami that killed villagers who headed to high ground nearby but were nonetheless swept away. The particulars matched geologic and historical evidence, but what the people of Murohama remembered wasn't corroborating science but the story itself -- and a roadside shrine, tended for generations, near the site where the tragedy happened. When the Tohoku earthquake hit, most of the people in Murohama heeded the story and headed to safer ground on the other side of town.
One commenter on our website, "clxLAT," said, "A picture of the shrine would have been nice." Holguín-Veras was happy to accommodate that request with a shot he took of the roadside shrine on his research trip to Japan. He also included a GPS map based on Google Earth. The "directions" on it start at "S" in the village and lead to "E" -- close to the roadside shrine. The safer high ground is south and west of "S."
Photo: Murohama's roadside shrine. Credit: José Holguín-Veras’ / For The Times