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Japan: This Man Dived Weekly For 10 Years To Find Wife Lost In Tsunami

In September 2013, at the age of 56, Takamatsu began taking diving lessons to extend his search underwater. Despite the challenges of learning to dive, his resolve was fueled by his love for Yuko and his need for closure.

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Ishika Thanvi
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Yasuo Takamatsu

Image: Aeon/Unilad

Yasuo Takamatsu's life was irrevocably changed on March 11, 2011, when a devastating tsunami struck Japan. The disaster, which registered a magnitude of 9.1, was the most powerful ever recorded in the country and the fourth most severe in human history. It left 450,000 people homeless, claimed 18,000 lives, and rendered more than 2,500 individuals missing, their bodies never found. Among those presumed dead was Takamatsu's wife, Yuko.

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A Husband's Unyielding Hope

Yuko was at work in a bank when the tsunami hit. Takamatsu, who was with his mother-in-law at a hospital in a nearby town, was prevented from returning to the devastated area immediately after the disaster. Months later, he found Yuko's phone in the bank's parking lot, a poignant relic of her last moments. The phone contained her final message to him: "Are you okay? I want to go home," and an unsent message describing the tsunami's destruction: "The tsunami is disastrous."

Diving Into The Unknown

Determined to find his wife's remains and lay her to rest, Takamatsu embarked on a relentless search. Initially, he spent two and a half years scouring the land. Then, in September 2013, at the age of 56, he began taking diving lessons to extend his search underwater. Despite the challenges of learning to dive, his resolve was fueled by his love for Yuko and his need for closure.

For over a decade, Takamatsu has dived weekly, hoping to find any trace of Yuko. His journey has been both a personal mission and a testament to his enduring love. In an interview for the short film The Diver, he expressed the duality of his hope and despair: "I do want to find her, but I also feel that she may never be discovered as the ocean is way too vast - but I have to keep looking."

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A Community Of Support

Takamatsu is not alone in his efforts. He dives with Masayoshi Takahashi, a diving instructor who leads volunteer dives to search for missing tsunami victims. Takahashi's support has been instrumental in Takamatsu's ongoing quest. Together, they continue to brave the ocean's depths, driven by the possibility of finding even a small piece of what was lost.

Yasuo Takamatsu's decade-long search for his wife Yuko is a poignant narrative of love, perseverance, and the human spirit's resilience. Despite the overwhelming odds and the vastness of the ocean, his weekly dives symbolize an unwavering commitment to his lost wife. Takamatsu's story serves as a powerful reminder of the enduring impact of the 2011 tsunami and the personal stories of those who continue to seek closure in its aftermath.

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