(Shizuo Kambayashi, Associated Press / March 9, 2012)

“You are about to see something strange and very memorable,” architect Yoshihiro Horii told me as we were driving near the waterfront in Ishinomaki, a city of 160,000 people in northeastern Japan that was heavily damaged by the earthquake and tsunami last March 11.

As his wife, a fellow architect named Shoko Fukuya, steered the car over the crest of a hill, we caught a glimpse of what he was talking about: a giant red metal cylinder, 35 feet high and dramatically mangled by the force of the tsunami, sitting right in the median, with traffic zooming by on both sides.

The three of us parked the car and climbed out to inspect this odd piece of apocalyptic detritus, which the tsunami carried nearly 1,000 feet from Ishinomaki’s port. It turned out to be a fish-oil tank that used to stand outside the offices of Kinoya, a seafood processing company. Painted years ago to resemble a can of whale meat, it was once a popular backdrop for photos by visitors to the company.

In its crumpled form and new location, the tank — which locals simply call “the big can” — has become the object of intense curiosity in this part of Japan, which is struggling to recover from the disaster. It may also suggest an inventive way for Japan to think about the process of designing memorials and monuments to the estimated 19,000 people killed.

via the Los Angeles Times — Rethinking memorials in aftermath of Japan tsunami by Christopher Hawthorne

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