An area surrounded by quiet rice patties, one of its few tourist attractions was the Museum of Sea and Shell, dedicated to mollusks and their evolution from Cambrian times to now. Not exactly Disney World, but not everything has to be.
According to the April 1976 issue of the Rotarian magazine, there is a high hill overlooking the town upon which a now-vanished castle was built 800 years ago. The plateau at the top was known as Hommaru (the inner citadel); and in the early 1900's the citizenry took it upon themselves to plant a park of cherry trees. It was the most popular place in the town, until the neccessities of WWII forced them to cut down the trees and turn it into desperately needed farmland.
In 1972, the Rotary celebrated their tenth year there by re-creating a park. Naming it Midori-no-Oka (Green Hill), they raised half a million Yen and every member spent 2 hours a day clearing, bulldozing, landscaping, and planting. Their example drew the rest of the town to the project, and in the end over 3,000 townspeople worked to make Green Hill once again the favorite recreational spot in the city.
I write this so that when you say your prayers or send your money to help Japan and towns like Rikuzen Takata, you'll remember that it was a living, breathing town of people who worked, lived, and loved together...
It is being described as "totally obliterated" by the Japanese media. Rikuzen Takada has come off the mat before, and restored beauty to ruin. The question is, are there Takadans left to rebuild. As I write this, the official death toll is in the six hundreds, with many more missing. And if a city of 23,000 can just vanish, you know this is a lowball estimate.
I hope, somehow, there were 23,000 people watching this from Midori-no-Oka. What I know is, I thank God he has preserved me thus far. Preserved my family. Put me in Indiana, where I avoid earthquakes, Tsunamis, hurricanes, and alligators and sharks. Left me only to dodge the occasional lazy-ass armed robbed and the odd tornado. And where I can pray.