Japan’s ancient tsunami warnings carved in stone

Weathered stone markers recalling the deadly tsunamis of centuries past dot the sawtooth coastline of northeast Japan, serving as silent warnings from the ancestors.

One of the monuments on a wooded hillside marks the limit of the tiny village of Aneyoshi, whose residents now credit it with saving them on March 11 when a giant ocean wave smashed into the fishing cove below them.

“A house on high ground will lead to peace and happiness for posterity,” reads the inscription on the stone, which was erected after a massive tsunami in 1933 killed thousands along the rugged Pacific coast.

“Remember the calamity of the great tsunami. Never build houses from this point down…. No matter how many years pass, keep vigilance high,” says the ominous warning carved into the one-metre (three-foot) tall stone.


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