Home / Funny / Viral / Japanese Man Takes Up Diving To Search For His Wife Who Disappeared During The 2011 Tsunami


Japan was hit by a terrible earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. 19,759 people lost their lives in the disaster, and 2,553 were still unaccounted for as of August 2022. Among them was Yuko Takamatsu, a woman whose body was never pulled from the water. At the age of 56, her husband Yasuo Takamatsu took diving lessons in an attempt to locate her and bring her home. The man has been searching for his missing wife for over ten years, having dove hundreds of times.

It's similar to trying to find a needle in a haystack when searching for a body in the ocean. Takamatsu hasn't given up yet. The man told The New York Times, "It's the only thing I can do, but I expected it to be difficult and I've found it quite difficult." All I can do is keep searching for her. In the ocean, I feel most connected to her.

In 1988, the couple got together. At the age of 25, she was already working at the 77 Bank branch in Onagawa, where she would spend her last hours. His boss introduced them; he was a soldier in the Ground Self-Defense Force of Japan.

According to Takamatsu's memories, his wife was a kind person who enjoyed classical music and created paintings on canvases that she displayed solely to him. It was inevitable that the devoted husband would look for his wife, but he didn't begin in the sea. His wife's bank was the first place he looked inland. He found her cellphone there, and on it was a sobering unsent message that said, "so much tsunami," addressed to him. He realised there was only one remaining solution—the ocean—after spending two years in the mountains, beaches, and forests. Masayoshi Takahashi, a local instructor who assisted in clearing tsunami debris, taught him how to dive. Accompanying Takamatsu on his dives, he made notes and maps.


The conditions of the ocean add even more complexity, given the size and depth of the area they were searching. "It's difficult to determine what happens to a body that is taken into the ocean and disappears," says Tetsuya Takagi, a forensic pathologist at Tohoku Medical and Pharmaceutical University in Sendai. No one ever really knows how the sea moves or flows. If a body is pulled down to a certain depth, it stays there. If it catches in fishing equipment, it might float across the Pacific and turn up in Hawaii. A body in the sea will mostly become soft as cheese so that if you touch it, the skin falls apart. In other cases the body may become encased in a substance called grave wax that makes it turn hard like plaster.”

Filmmakers from all over the world were moved by Takamatsu's plight and felt obligated to share this story of unwavering love. Among them are Nowhere to Go but Everywhere, a short film produced by directors Erik Shirai and Masako Tsumura. The Diver, a nine-minute film directed by Anderson Wright, was released concurrently. These heartbreaking tales highlight the man's perseverance and demonstrate how love can also be expressed through grief. 

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