Man from Miyagi learns to scuba dive in order to find his wife’s body

In Other News - February 16th, 2014
man-learns-to-scuba

In the continued aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake, one man’s story stands out, not so much a story of love as a story of swimming forward in the wake of a tragedy.

Almost three years after losing his wife in the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Yasuo Takamatsu will scour the freezing waters of the Pacific Ocean to find her remains.

He said has learnt to scuba dive for that sole purpose. On Wednesday morning, he headed into the water with his diving coach Masayoshi Takahashi on the snowy coast of the Sanriku region. They were training for Takamatsu to learn to maintain a constant depth, the Mainichi Daily News reports.

“I want to start looking for Yuko as soon as I can, tomorrow even,” he said. “I’ll keep diving as many times as it takes. I’ll get better, a little at a time.”

Takamatsu, 57, got the higher-level diving license he needs for underwater searches and clearing debris. He decided to start training right away instead of waiting for warmer weather after authorities made three unsuccessful searches last year for his wife’s body.

“I will find my wife on my own power. I will bring her home,” he said.

Takamatsu said Yuko, then 47, was at work at 77 Bank’s Onagawa branch when she felt the tremors. Fearing a tsunami, she and her 12 colleagues went up to the roof of the 13 meter building. But the wave that ripped into Onagawa reached 20 meters high. Four of the people on the rooftop have been confirmed dead, and eight others – including Yuko – remain “missing.”

Just before the waves swept through the town, Yuko sent Takamatsu an e-mail asking him if was all right. He had no inkling it would be the last he would hear from her.

It was those same words that prodded him to learn to dive.

“I bet you want to come home. It’s so sad that you haven’t yet, that you’re still on the bottom of the cold ocean,” Takamatsu would tell himself.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image of tsunami disaster area in Onagawa, December 2011: Melody Breaker/Flickr