This is an air raid shelter that survived WWII in the Gyokurinji Buddhist Zen Temple at Taito Ward, Tokyo. It is well kept and miraculously intact because it is made of gravestones and was a little off-center from ground zero (Koto Ward, Sumida Ward) of the Tokyo Air Raid. It's located at the private graveyard of the temple, not open to the public right now. The shelter had been buried in the ground since the war ended, but Toshio Kosaka (66), a grave keeper at the temple, dug it up 19 years ago and has been maintaining it with a sense of pride since then. In a way, he is one of war history's memory keepers.
It is distressing to imagine that evacuees who wanted to escape from the fear of death were simultaneously surrounded and protected by the dead. But there was no other way, it was a matter of life and death. I wonder what people felt and whispered to each other in the cold, damp darkness during the raids. (Taito Ward, Tokyo. 2015.08.17)
The bank of Sumida River, on which many sought refuge from the March 10 Tokyo Air Raid firebombing. But the fire spread to the middle of the river and many were drowned, their bodies filling the river like floating firewood. It took many months to clear the river because the corpses had drifted downstream with the ebbing tide and then floated back up when the tide came in. Early last summer I met an elderly woman who had experienced and survived the Tokyo Air Raid on that river bank. She said that she always prayed to the dead whenever she crossed the river, even today. (Sumida Ward, Tokyo. 2014.02.15)
"Human memory is encoded in air currents and river sediment. Eskers of ash wait to be scooped up, lives reconstituted." - from "Fugitive Pieces" by Anne Michaels