FUDAI —In the rubble of Japan’s northeast coast, one small village stands as tall as ever after the tsunami. No homes were swept away. In fact, they barely got wet.
Fudai is the village that survived—thanks to a huge wall once deemed a mayor’s expensive folly and now vindicated as the community’s salvation.
The 3,000 residents living between mountains behind a cove owe their lives to a late leader who saw the devastation of an earlier tsunami and made it the priority of his four-decade tenure to defend his people from the next one.
His 15.5-meter floodgate between mountainsides took a dozen years to build and meant spending more than 3.56 billion yen.
“It cost a lot of money. But without it, Fudai would have disappeared,” said seaweed fisherman Satoshi Kaneko, 55, whose business has been ruined but who is happy to have his family and home intact.
The gate project was criticized as wasteful in the 1970s. But the gate and an equally high seawall behind the community’s adjacent fishing port protected Fudai from the waves that obliterated so many other towns. Read More