Malka Older has been leading the aid efforts for the NGO Mercy Corps in Japan since the earthquake and tsunami struck there in March. She came to The World’s studios today. This quote thought was chilling.
“In Japan, almost all the cars have incredible GPS systems. So we’re driving around these roads where we can barely see where the road is, and the GPS is telling us, ‘At the next corner you will see a convenience store. At the corner up ahead, you want to turn right next to the hotel.’ And there’s nothing there. There are these virtual ghosts of what the town used to be.”
I had several of those “virtual ghost” moments in northern Japan. Several times with our car’s GPS system. But they happen a lot more than in the car. Here’s what remains of a dive shop in the port city of Ishinomaki.
Several paces nearby, I found a rubber stamp, maybe for the same dive shop. It was resting on a stack of cinder blocks. It felt weird to take something from there. The Japanese I was with said it was meaningful, to them, to me, to Ishinomaki. I should not hesitate, they said.
It’s painfully ironic. A dive shop.