Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler

"High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants. Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point.”(1)  The centuries-old stone tablet bearing this warning stands in the hamlet of Aneyoshi, one of hundreds of such markers planted up and down the coastline of Japan. Fortunately the people of this area heeded the warning of their ancestors, building their homes above the marker and avoiding the fate of the thousands who perished during the 2011 tsunami.

Although many coastal towns had markers bearing similar warnings, many citizens failed to heed them and perished. “People had this crucial knowledge, but they were busy with their lives and jobs, and many forgot,” said Yotaru Hatamura, a scholar who has studied the tablets. “It takes about three generations for people to forget. Those that experience the disaster themselves pass it to their children and their grandchildren, but then the memory fades.”(2)

How did the people of Aneyoshi hold on to this memory? A twelve-year-old boy by the name of Yuto Kimura explains, “Everybody here knows about the markers. We studied them in school.”(3)

Like the Japanese people who heeded the warning, we need to realize that remembering is vital to our well-being. Forgetting what God has done and said will lead to devastation. Remembering will lead to peace. Passing on the sacred memory will enable others to experience the shalom God has for them.


(1). Jay Alabaster, “Tsunami Hit Towns Forgot Warnings from Ancestors,” Associated Press,

April 6, 2011,


(2). Ibid.

(3). Ibid.


(Image courtesy of Austin Brown)


Originally published October 17, 2013.

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