I was with my friends in the car. The water outside was already level with the windscreen wipers, and slowly increasing. What should we do? Should we stay or go? She inched the car forward, but it only got worse, the water rising, inch by inch. I woke up. Thankfully, it was only a dream, but to many who thought they were going to die, it is a nightmare that keeps playing in their mind, again and again.
The Fukuchiyama Flood memorial museum, also known as Chisui museum, plays tribute to those that didn’t make it, as well as those that did to tell the tale. Sitting on top of a multi storey flood levy on a sunny day, it is hard to imagine the horrors of the flood, though the black and white pictures show clearly, people sitting on the rooftop, wondering if the water level will keep rising, and if they can swim to safety if it does. Then again, it was not too long ago when floods and landslides came through in another town, showing the awesome power of nature.
Just as importantly, it shows the power of individuals and communities, working together to pull together from disasters small and large. The volunteers here at this museum treated me like family, allowing me into their home and being able to experience what life was like in the late 19th century. Housed in an old merchant house, the interactive exhibits allowed me to experience every aspect of life here, from operating the pulleys for the well buckets, to a visualisation of how the flood water crept up to the attic.
Walk, bike or cycle, the choice is yours. From Fukuchiyama Railway Station, it is a 20 minute walk, however bicycles are available for hire at the information centre. There are also buses or taxis that will take you to the museum.