Man Learns to Scuba Dive to Search for Wife's Remains

Yasuo Takamatsu's wife was lost in the 2011 Japan tsunami
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 11, 2014 9:19 AM CDT
Man Learns to Scuba Dive to Search for Wife's Remains
In this Sunday, March 9, 2014 photo, Yasuo Takamatsu wears his goggles before taking a diving lesson at Takenoura bay, Miyagi prefecture, northern Japan.   (Koji Ueda)

On a chilly morning last weekend, a 57-year-old Japanese man adjusted his diving mask before heading out to sea from the tsunami-hit northeast coast, but he wasn't doing it for fun: Yasuo Takamatsu is learning to scuba dive in hopes of finding the remains of his wife. As Japan marks the third anniversary of the 2011 tsunami today, 2,636 people remain missing, their bodies presumably swept out to sea. Takamatsu's wife, Yuko, was at her office when the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that spawned the tsunami struck offshore at 2:46pm. At 3:21pm, she sent him an email: "Are you OK? I want to go home." That was the last time he heard from her. She was 47 when she died, and left a now 23-year-old son and 20-year-old daughter.

Last Sunday, Takamatsu and his instructor dived to a depth of nearly 23 feet, spending a little more than one hour in the murky waters over the course of two dives. An old tire and other debris was scattered on the ocean floor. It will take many more dives before Takamatsu, who retired as an aircraft mechanic with the Japanese military and is now a bus driver, will be experienced enough to take part in underwater searches. "She wrote, 'I want to go home,'" Takamatsu says of his wife. "Because I know that, that she feels that way, I want to look for her myself rather than depend on others to do it." (More Japan earthquake stories.)

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