Reopening of beach welcomed by surfing couple（地元の海復活信じ続け清掃）
FUKUSHIMA-- A couple living in Shinchi, Fukushima Prefecture, on July 20 welcomed the reopening of a local beach, a location the two have been cleaning monthly since it was closed following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.
Makoto Kawakami, 43, and his wife, Terumi, 44, saw a number of precious items taken away in the tsunami -- brought on by the quake -- and also lost Makoto's grandmother, 86, along with friends and the family cat.
They also lost their house, which was located about 100 meters west of Tsurushihama beach.
After the quake, Makoto thought he would never fancy going to the sea again. Although he loved the beach and was a competent surfer who participated in competitions, he was not able to venture near the beach where his grandmother and friends lost their lives.
Terumi thought she must find a way to get Makoto back to the sea next to where he grew up. To encourage him, she came up with an idea of cleaning up the beach, which was awash with debris.
She embarked on the cleanup effort in August 2011 with her three surfing friends, and the number who joined the activity gradually increased.
In the autumn of 2012, she organized a volunteer group to clean up the beach with those who supported her idea, and she took the lead as its representative.
The group pick up waste along the shore of Tsurushihama and other beaches on the fourth Sunday every month. It now has more than 250 registered members nationwide.
More than eight years and four months have passed since the disaster, but items such as clothes, and even a drawer -- all are believed to have been swept away by the tsunami -- still wash up on the beaches.
Makoto, who serves as a leader of the volunteer group, has slowly softened on his attitude toward a return to normal life. "We need to live just like before the quake."
Three years on, he resumed surfing with Terumi. Recently, he has been able to smile at the beach.
On July 7, about 30 volunteers were on hand to clean up Tsurushihama.
"Thanks to many people, we've managed to come this far," Terumi said, on a day when the group collected empty cans and other waste.
There were other beaches in the prefecture that reopened prior to Tsurushihama, but they have seen fewer visitors since the disaster. Terumi thinks many people have stopped making routine trips to the beach, and they feel uncomfortable being in the water there as a result of the disaster.
"I want to continue our activities until the place becomes as cheerful as it was before," she said.
（ Translated by The Japan News ）
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