On March 11, 2011, all but two of the 65 homes in Aramachi, a small community in Kesencho, Rikuzentakata City, Iwate Prefecture, Japan, were destroyed by the earthquake and the tsunami, and many residents lost their lives. About 15 community members, who did not want to abandon their town or their missing neighbours, took refuge in the Kongoji Buddhist temple or remained in their damaged houses, coping with grief and pondering their past and their future. Tsunami Survivors  in Aramachi by Hiroko Masuike Nobuo Kobayashi, 50, chief priest of Kongoji Temple, walks amid debris to visit the Kumagai family, who survived the tsunami and the earthquake in Aramachi.  The priest held a ceremony to pray for their safety, peace and prosperity in a new temporary home built by themselves. Teruko Sato, 73, bursts into tears outside her destroyed home in Aramachi after her sister Tamiko visited from Kanagawa Prefecture, near Tokyo, April 11, 2011. Teruko lost her son Shoichi, 47, in the tsunami on March 11. Shoichi, who was a member of volunteer fire corp, tried to help an elderly to evacuate when the tsunami swallowed the area. The house of Teruko and her husband, Naoshi, is one of the two houses that remained standing after the tsunami. Refugees warm themselves at the fire at a makeshift dining room next to Fudoudo in Aramachi March 28, 2011. They built the shack by themselves, using tarpaulin sheets, ply-wood, and metal poles that were found in the debris. Refugees talk about the damage to the community, victims and survivours and their future during dinner time. Noboru Suzuki, 79, the oldest of the refugees at Fudoudo, eats at the temple's makeshift dining room in Aramachi, March 28, 2011. He lost his house and all of his belongings in the tsunami, but he was determined to stay at the temple until the rest of the bodies of his neighbours were found instead of moving to an evacuation centre. With no electricity, Nobuo Kobayashi does some research under low light at Fudoudo in Aramahi, April 10. At a makeshift morgue in Yahagicho, Rikuzentakata, Mio Sato, 42, cried over the coffin of her husband, Shoichi Sato, April 10, 2011. It was the first and last time she saw his body, almost a month after he died. He was cremated two days later. Naoshi Sato, 79, left, his wife, Teruko, 73, second left, with other relatives look at their son Shocichi's bones after cremation during the funeral in Tatakacho, Rikuzentakata, April 12, 2011. The Kumagai family (from left, Tatsuro, 79, Kazuko, 73, and their son Noboru, 46) eats breakfast where their home once stood in Aramachi, April 10, 2011. Noboru shaves in the morning outside Kongoji Temple in Aramachi, April 04, 2011. A Shack built by refugees is seen in the background. Takeshi Kanno, right, and his son, Shigeta, enjoy a makeshift bath built in Aramachi near the temple by volunteers in the community, April 13, 2011. Refugees sleep without heat in cold weather inside the temple’s Fudoudo building in Aramachi, April 03, 2011. Takeshi Kanno, right, and Hatsuo Sato, 65, sit at the early morning fire outside Fudoudo in Aramachi, April 03, 2011. They make a fire around around 4 a.m. every morning so the community members “sleeping without heart” could warm up. After the initial shock of the earthquake and the tsunami in March 2011, survivors have started to move forward. The ongoing process of rebuilding in Aramachi, a small community on the northeastern coast of Japan, started with moving into temporary housing by the end of August, and over the winter of 2011-12, the community struggled to reconcile the emotional and physical damage. On the one-year anniversary, survivors mourned and shed tears for victims, but at the same time, some have begun to heal their wounds. Now, survivors of Aramachi, especially people who remained in the Kongoji Buddhist temple and their damaged houses, are thinking about their immediate future - how to rebuild and reunite their community. On the one-year anniversary of the earthquake and the tsunami, Teruko Sato, 73, who lost her son Shoichi, 47, prays at the site where his body was found in Kesencho, Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, Japan. Shoichi was killed when he was helping an elderly member of the community evacuate. Buddhist monks from Nara Prefecture in Western Japan and worshipers pray during a Gomadaki ceremony (in which a fire is lit to invoke divine help) to commemorate victims of the tsunami on the eve of the one-year- anniversary at the site where the Kongoji Temple building once stood in Aramachi.  March 10, 2012. Monks from Nara Prefecture chant a Buddhist sutra for tsunami victims as they walk through Aramachi after a Gomadaki ceremony, March 10, 2012. Noboru Suzuki prepares to cultivate shiitake mushrooms in a quiet mountain area in Kesencho, Rikuzentakata, October 14, 2011 Mio Sato, 43, stares at the Sato family grave in Kesencho, Rikuzentakata, October 11, 2011, seven months after the tsunami. The bones and ashes of her late husband, Shoichi, are buried here. She visits the graveyard often to feel closer to him. She was initially living with her stepparents, Naoshi and Teruko, for five months after the disaster. Now she is trying to move forward with her life by living by herself. Back to current issue