Updated 03/14/2012 02:10 PM
Inn owner responsible for saving several lives during tsunami
A courageous woman is being credited with saving many lives during the Japan earthquake - including her own - by making sure her inn was ready for a tsunami. Dean Meminger reports.
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Akiko Iwasaki re-enacts how she ran for the hills a year ago as the water from the Pacific Ocean raced behind her. Her frantic ordeal was caught on video. She escaped death by only seconds as the tsunami swallowed everything in its path.
Iwasaki is the owner of an inn called Horaikan in Kamaishi City. Although the first two floors were heavily damaged from the more than 20 foot high waves, she has fully restored her inn.
"Sometimes I feel guilty for moving forward," Iwasaki said.
An estimated 600 people from her town located in the small northern Japanese city were killed. A memorial stone has been placed across from the inn.
Iwasaki is responsible for saving many lives. Years ago her property was renovated to withstand such a tragedy. Behind the inn, stairs were built to get up the hill, just in case a tsunami hit. Now she wants to build a deck from the inn to the hill.
"Because I was saved on the hill. I would would like to build an emergency evacuation area that can be seen from all around," Iwasaki said.
Walking along the beach Iwasaki says she knows tourists and even local residents are very nervous about the water.
"So many of my friends died in the ocean," Iwasaki said.
Iwasaki says a year later she's no longer afraid. She says she actually took a scuba diving class to help get over the fear.
Iwasaki says she now knows what New Yorkers felt during the September 11th attacks: Empathy that brought our Japan liaison to tears.
"Well, her gentleness, her heart, her sharing. And out of this pain she still has courage," said Japanese Liaison Takashi Inagaki.