A "Wind Phone" Consoles Disaster-Stricken Japan

If you've ever lost someone, then you've felt the pain of wanting one last conversation—to let your loved one know just how much they're missed. In Otsuchi, Japan, Itaru Sasaki was so deeply saddened by the loss of his cousin that he built a glass phone booth with a disconnected rotary phone to "call" his deceased relative. Little did he know, the booth would later bring closure to thousands of disaster-stricken families.

A Call For Closure

In 2011, Japan was shaken by an earthquake, a tsunami, and a nuclear meltdown. Otsuchi was one of the hardest hit areas in the Great East Japan earthquake. According to Atlas Obscura, the town was struck with 30-foot waves, leading to the deaths of a full 10 percent of the town. 

Since Sasaki's kaze no denwa, or "phone of the wind" had helped him cope with his own grief, he opened it up to the public. Word traveled fast, and the mourning Japanese journeyed from all over the country to make their calls. Over the first three years post-earthquake, more than 10,000 people dialed their dear ones. Sasaki's booth provided a much needed source of comfort as the community sought to rebuild itself.

Leave With Hope

You too can make this trek. A high-speed train is available from Tokyo to the coastal mountainous community of Otsuchi, and you'll find the glass phone booth just outside the town limits. Walk to the top of Sasaki's hilltop garden, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, then find your way to the famed wind phone. Who knows, maybe your loved one will hear you on the other side. If nothing else, it can certainly be a source of comfort.

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Written by Curiosity Staff April 24, 2017

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