A week after the tsunami obliterated most of this northern Japanese city’s seafront and not a little of its inland, the first handful of shopkeepers and their employees were outdoors shoveling mud and hauling wreckage from their businesses, signs of rebirth after this region’s worst catastrophe in memory.
Kunio Imakawa, a 75-year-old barber, was not among them.
Mr. Imakawa and his wife, Shizuko, lost his three-chair barber shop, their second-floor apartment and all their belongings in the tsunami. Rebuilding would mean starting from scratch. And he said that simple math, calculated in yen and in years, showed it was not worth the effort.
“Young people would think, ‘Maybe there’s another way,’ ” he said last week as he sprawled with 1,600 other refugees in a chilly local sports arena. “But I’m too old. My legs have problems."
“It’s too late to start over.”