After Yuya Numata, a resident of Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, lost all four family members to the March 11, 2011 disaster, he felt extreme pangs of conscience at having been the only one to survive. Now that he has regained the energy to focus upon his own life, however, he has a dream: to create picture books that will give children courage.
I first met Numata 10 days after the disaster on March 21, 2011 at the Natori Performing Arts Center, where so many people had sought shelter that they were spilling out into the facility's corridors. A recent high school graduate, Numata was taking care of a group of small children, whose laughter pierced the building's otherwise heavy and somber atmosphere.
After I approached him, Numata began detachedly recounting the story of what had happened to his family members. Following the earthquake, they fled from their home in the city's Yuriage district to a nearby community center -- but were carried away when the tsunami hit. Numata was the only one who survived.