Charles Pomeroy emerged from a nomadic childhood in the Mid-west—he was born in Beloit, Wisconsin—to enter another nomadic life in the U.S. Navy starting in 1947 at the tender age of 17. He served eight years as an aircrew member specialized in electronics, which included two combat tours during the Korean War. That war also introduced him to Japan, a country that in 1950 was yet to recover from the destruction of WWII.
But it was during a later assignment to the Naval Attaché in Rome, Italy, in 1954 and exposure to a world beyond the military that awakened a desire for a higher education. As chance would have it, an interest in Japanese language and arts led to contacts with the Japanese community in Rome. Thus, two years later he left the military and, student visa in hand, boarded a freighter for Japan in early 1957.
Following language school and four years of study in Tokyo at Sophia University (Jochi Daigaku), the author graduated with a B.A. in Asian History, with emphasis on the arts. He also tried his hand at creating art himself, producing woodblock prints, but failure there would turn his attention more to the written word as a way to earn a living. Initially, as a freelancer he translated over a dozen books, ranging from the simpler "Japanese Toys" to the more complex "Chinese Eunuchs." Morphing from freelance translator into a correspondent specializing in coverage of Japan’s healthcare industry came about in 1966 and continued until he retired in 2004.
As an author, his first book, "Traditional Crafts of Japan" (Weatherhill) was published in 1967. In the mid-1990s, as General Editor he focused the knowledge of five colleagues to put together a history book, "Foreign Correspondents in Japan" (Tuttle), published in 1998. A more recent book, "Pharma Delegates," was published in 2013.
Following a failed marriage, the author found his life-long mate in 1986, Atsuko Kobayashi. As well, he eventually became enamored with her home town, Otsuchi in Iwate Prefecture and a new home was built there in 1999 in anticipation of retirement. Retirement, in turn, allowed resumption of his earlier passion of woodblock printing. That blissful life came to an end with the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake and the following tsunami onslaught.
On his first visit soon after the tsunami, while viewing the bare foundations of his former home, the author was struck by the absolute stillness of a now dead town, interrupted occasionally by the distant sound of backhoes moving debris. That eerie silence triggered an overwhelming desire to share with the world the story of Otsuchi and one family’s travails as a microcosm of the tragedy as presented in "Tsunami Reflections."
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Tsunami Reflections - Otsuchi Remembered
by Charles Pomeroy
This book details the fate of Otsuchi, the author’s retirement home, as a microcosm of the horrific tsunami that destroyed Japan’s Sanriku Coast on March 11, 2011. The narrative provides geographical and historical context and reflects on the tsunami’s aftermath, loss of family members and home, mass funerals, cultural aspects, humanitarian efforts, and plans for recovery.
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