By Toru Hanai
Six months after Japan’s massive earthquake and tsunami, I went back to visit six-year-old Wakana Kumagai who lost her father in the disasters in Higashi-Matsushima, Miyagi prefecture.
I photographed Wakana when she visited her father’s temporary grave at a mass burial site in Higashi-Matsushima on April 21, after attending an entrance ceremony at her elementary school. I was struck by how positive and optimistic Wakana behaved.
Five months later, Wakana bowed her head in prayer with her mother Yoshiko and brother Koki at the exact spot where the car of their late father Kazuyuki was found. The family crouched in prayer at 2:46 p.m. as Japan marked exactly six months since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
“Your daddy got out of the car and went towards where he thought you were to find you,” Yoshiko whispered to her children as they prayed at the site.
Wakana then looked toward the elementary school which acted as a shelter and where they waited for the arrival of their father in the cold as snow fell around them on March 11.