Tsunami Stones

“Hundreds of tsunami stones stand along the coast of Japan, stark warnings and reminders of the devastating impact of the country’s all too frequent tidal waves. The oldest were erected more than 600 years ago; some have been washed away by ever more powerful waves.”

This is a quote and image from an online article about this cultural heritage that came to prominence as a shocking example of the negligence of cultural heritage in our age. Of course these stones can be found as well in Kesennuma, the province that was hit hardest by the 2011 Tsunami, which also caused the Fukushima Nuclear Accident. I unfortunately do not remember, in which text I first found the reference.

The article goes on with the following list:

“Japan has borne the brunt of some of the worst tsunamis in history. In 1707, a tsunami caused by the Hōei earthquake killed more than 5,000 people. The Great Yaeyama Tsunami of 1771 killed 8,439 people on Ishigaki Island and 2,548 more on Miyako. In 1896, the Sanriku earthquake sent two tsunamis crashing into coastal settlements, destroying some 9,000 homes and killing at least 22,000. More recently, the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami of 2011 left 15,894 dead, 6,156 injured, and 2,546 missing.”

But there are also apparently cases, where people were smart enough to do follow the advice enscribed on the century old stones:

“One particularly well-documented tsunami stone stands in the village of Aneyoshi on Japan’s northeastern coast. Aneyoshi had endured two devastating tsunamis, one in 1896 and another in 1933. The stone was placed shortly after the 1933 tsunami, a four-foot-high marker located just above the tsunami’s highest reach. It reads: “High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants. Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point.”

When the stone was placed, the remaining residents of Aneyoshi—there were only four—moved uphill for good. Heeding the advice of the tsunami stone, they moved above the reach of the last tsunami, which undoubtedly saved them from being devastated once again in the tsunamis of 1960 and 2011.”

Storm sculpture in Bremerhaven

The New Harbour in Bremerhaven is protected by a dike. Behind the dike lie the German Maritime Museum, the Klimahaus and further behind the city’s center. Right behind the dike stands a sculpture to commemorate the danger of storm surges. Copper rings on the pole of the sculpture show the maximum water levels of past storm surges (1717, 1825, 1906, 1936, 1962, 1973). On the top is a copper model of the Bremen Hanseatic Cog over a globe that can be rotated in the wind. The model was created by the Bremerhaven sculptor Gerhard Olbrich in 1975 and can be seen from both sides of the dike.

Looking back through a treehouse window

Japanese artist Michiari Saito builds treehouses with the citizens of Kesenuma, one of the towns that were severly affected by the 2011 tsunami that caused the Fukushima disaster as well. A protective barrier now separates the twon from the sea. The view out of these treehouses allows different perspectives on the twon and the landscape, for example seeing the waterfront without the massive wall. The treehouses thus are a sort of time machine as well as an effort in community healing. (The video is japanese with German subtitles only)

Thanks to Hannah Janz for the suggestion!

Japan; 21. Century; Installation / Community Art; City: Kesenuma

The floating Church

This swimming building in an artificial lake in Saxonia, combines the commemoration of two sunken citites: The shape of the dome resembles the church of Magdeborn, a former town that was evicted in the 1970s and the area was later flooded by the lake. The name however refers to the mythical sunken city Vineta, located in the Baltic sea in or closeby the Szczecin Lagoon. The building is also used as an “event center”.

Morana (Morena)

This is an idol of the Slav goddess Morana. In the folktale as penned by Stepan Gedeonow, the godess takes revenge on the people of Rethra by flooding the tempel and city. The reason for the demise and the geographical position of Rethra are not scientifically verified.

Poland; probably 20. Century; Pagan; Sculpture; City: Rethra

The New Ark

Since 2017 there is a “life size” Ark in Kentucky, USA: https://arkencounter.com/

USA; 21. Century; Christian; Sculpture, Theme Park