In Tsunami’s Wake, a Japanese Family Drifts Apart

In Tsunami’s Wake, a Japanese Family Drifts Apart

Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times

Hiroko Masuike, a photographer who chanced upon the family in the weeks after the 2011 disaster.

After the tsunami’s dark waves receded from the Japanese town of Kesen, leaving destruction in their wake, the Satos huddled together on what remained of their family plot. Naoshi and Teruko Sato’s son, Shoichi, a firefighter who had raced toward the sea to rescue the stranded, was missing. Shoichi’s wife, Mio Sato, was sick with worry.

Their stoicism in the face of adversity made a deep impression on Hiroko Masuike, a photographer who chanced upon the family in the weeks after the 2011 disaster and who has documented the family’s recovery ever since.

Except they didn’t recover.

The Satos’ misery over losing Shoichi consumed them. They are now in the midst of a painful separation after 56 years of marriage. And they have cut their grief-stricken daughter-in-law out of their lives entirely.

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