On the afternoon of Friday, March 11th, Hideaki Akaiwa was at his job, dully trudging out the final bitter minutes of his work week in his office just outside the port city of Ishinomaki in Japan's Miyagi Prefecture. What this guy's day job actually is, I honestly have no idea, but based on the extremely limited information I have on the guy I can only presume that his daily nine-to-five routine probably falls somewhere between the motorcycle chase scenes from the movie Akira and John Rambo's antics in the book version of First Blood on the ridiculousness/badassitude scale. But that's only speculation.
The one thing we know for certain is that Akaiwa was at work on the 11th, when suddenly, right as he was in the middle of jumping over a giant Gatling-gun-armed robot while riding on a rocket-powered jetbike he'd MacGuyvered together out of vines, tree branches, and a couple thumbtacks, something terrible happened – an earthquake. And not just any earthquake – a mega fucking brain-busting insane earthquake the likes of which the island of Japan had never had the misfortune of experiencing before. The ground shook, buildings crumbled, lights smashed apart, and the entire population of the country froze in fear as fault line below Japan rumbled for a ridiculous two-plus minutes.
But, amazingly, an 8.9 magnitude earthquake wasn't the worst thing to happen to the town Ishinomaki on that horrible day. No, that was afterwards, when the tremors from the earthquake churned up a raging tsunami that took a bustling city of 162,000 people and suddenly turned it into little more than a ten-foot-deep lake.
For reference, here's a NASA satellite comparison of the city before and after the tsunami. Needless to say, poor Hideaki Akaiwa, concerned for his family, rushed out of his office in time to see his city completely submerged under an obscene ten feet of water that buried everything from houses to businesses. He ran to the high water mark and stared helplessly into the sprawling lake that once used to be his home.
But it gets even worse. Hideaki's wife of twenty years was still buried inside the lake somewhere. She hadn't gotten out. She wasn't answering her phone. The water was still rising, the sun was setting, cars and shit were swooshing past on a river of sea water, and and rescue workers told him there was nothing that could be done – the only thing left was to sit back, wait for the military to arrive, and hope that they can get in there and rescue the survivors before it's too late. With 10,000 citizens of Ishinomaki still missing and unaccounted for, the odds weren't great that Hideaki would ever see his wife again.
For most of us regular folks, this is the sort of shit that would make us throw up our hands, swear loudly, and resign ourselves to a lifetime of hopeless misery.
But Hideaki Akaiwa isn't a regular guy. He's a fucking insane badass, and he wasn't going to sit back and just let his wife die alone, freezing to death in a miserable water-filled tomb. He was going after her. No matter what.