Fukushima roadside post swept away by tsunami discovered on Okinawa beach

19 June 2020

A white roadside post believed to have been swept away when a tsunami hit the Fukushima Prefecture city of Soma has been discovered on a beach in Okinawa Prefecture. Known as a “delineator,” the 1.5-meter-long metal pole topped with a circular reflector was found in June having apparently washed up in the central Okinawa village of Nakagusuku. The pole, one of the countless numbers that indicate the edge of Japanese roads, has a faint inscription of "Soma-shi" (Soma city) visible.

It is thought by the Nakakusuku government that the pole "was uprooted by the tsunami stemming from the Great East Japan Earthquake and drifted to Okinawa over a period of nine years." Nakagusuku has obtained the pole from Soma, and shows it at village grade schools as part of anti-disaster education and for other purposes.

According to Nakagusuku officials, the pole was found on June 8 by an employee of a local farming and stockbreeding equipment installation business while he was combing the beach as part of a voluntary cleaning effort. The use of the same type of pole on Soma's roads was confirmed via Google's "Street View" service that allows people to take a virtual look at streets anywhere in the world. The employee notified the village that the pole "may have been washed ashore after the earthquake-induced tsunami left it adrift on the sea." The village then asked Soma to transfer ownership of the item.

Every year on March 11, the day in 2011 when the mega quake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan, Nakagusuku conducts evacuation drills and gives children disaster management lessons to ready them for such a disaster. "The item will be important to enable villagers to understand the threat of an earthquake and tsunami, and allows their awareness about disaster prevention to increase," said Seiya Higa, 31, junior leader at the village office's general affairs section.

Meanwhile, an official of the Soma city government's office of disaster preparedness said the city hopes the pole "will be used to prevent the memories of the Great East Japan Earthquake from fading away in Okinawa as well and to help prepare for future natural disasters."

[Photos]
Roadside delineator with inscription of "Soma-shi" (Soma city) washed ashore in Nakagusuku, Okinawa Prefecture (courtesy of Nakagusuku village office)

Seiya Higa (left), junior leader at Nakagusuku village's general affairs section, and another official hold a roadside delineator with "Soma-shi" inscription that was found washed ashore on an Okinawa beach

(Translated by Kyodo News)