The Ancient Warning Of Japanese Tsunami Stones

Chuck Banner | December 25th, 2018

Locals of Aneyoshi in Japan heeded the warnings of ancient stones left by generations before and safely avoided being flooded by a tsunami. They followed the instructions of their ancestors by reading what is known as Tsunami Stones, ancient stones that have been left in the ground and inscribed with a simple message: do not build any homes below this point.

99percentinvisible.org

When the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake happened which subsequently caused a tsunami, the village sat safely above the water levels and was lucky enough to escape unscathed and undamaged. If you walk along the hillside of coastal Japan, you will find hundreds of tsunami stones that dot along the coast. They are a symbol that people use to remember and commemorate past disasters and also used as warnings for future builders.

If you have ever lived in Japan, then you know that you will face a long history of periodic and unpredictable earthquakes which always end up in causing devastating tsunamis. The country is extremely prepared for these natural disasters as they are for a lack of better words used to them but when a tsunami does hit, the same questions always come up.

Should the locals rebuild on higher ground in a completely new location? Or maybe construct modern houses with flood protected roofs or should they rebuild the same as before but put up a higher seawall?

And every choice is a problem for locals, rebuilding on new land could mean having to relocate entire populations and Japanese land is very mountainous. Flood-resistant housing is a legal and even a designated architectural preference in Japan, yet there is only so much one can do against massive walls of water. Seawalls are often a prized infrastructure, but they do not always work depending on the severity of the tsunami.

Most towns and village simply praise their forefathers and continue to abide by the Tsunami Stones messages.

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