Oura Ward erects a monument to commemorate the Chile Tsunami

Oura Ward erects a monument to commemorate the Chile Tsunami

In Oura, Nago, Jun Higa, (right) who suggested setting up a monument for the Chile Earthquake and Tsunami and Ward Mayor Yasuyuki Higa. The bell behind it was used to warn people of the tsunami.

April 11, 2012

In order to commemorate the tsunami in Chile in 1960, Oura Ward in Nago set up a monument at Asagi-Mae Park. The Great East Japan Earthquake made 82 year-old Jun Higa think that it is important to pass down the experience of the Chile tsunami to future generations. A group of people in the ward also started making stairs to an escape route leading to a hill, so that it will be easier for elderly people to escape in the case of a tsunami.

When the Chile Tsunami occurred in Oura, women who had gone to the sea early in the morning to collect water to use for making tofu noticed the tell-tale early signs of the tsunami when they sensed that the waves were moving strangely. Because there was a mountain directly behind the district, there was no human suffering. The bell used to warn people of the impending tsunami still exists in Asagi-Mae Park.

However, a five-meter tsunami destroyed Oura Bridge and sea walls. All of the houses were flooded, and livestock such as pigs and goats were washed away. Jun Higa said, “There were no tsunami warnings in those days, and we didn’t expect it.”
The monument was set up using donations from Tsutomu Higa, who is from the district and currently lives in Okinawa City. An unveiling ceremony was held on March 25.

Ward mayor Yasuyuki Higa, who was inaugurated in April, said, “I would like to raise the community’s awareness of disaster prevention.”

(English translation by T&CT, Megumi Chibana and Mark Ealey)

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