With a fierce yell and a resounding thwack, 13-year-old Japanese student Nanami Usui brings her bamboo sword down on her opponent.
By practicing Kendo, or Japanese swordsmanship, Usui is one of several students in the town of Minamisanriku who are rebuilding their confidence after last year’s tsunami washed away their homes and shattered their hometown in the country’s northeast.
Usui says she dreams of being a police officer, but she doesn’t know yet where she wants to live and work.
“Most high school students here have dreams about their future careers,” she says, as she prepares to don her helmet and breastplate. “I suppose if you want to become a fisherman you can stay here, but if you want to do anything else, you have to leave this town.”
Read the rest of the story: Rethinking, Not Just Rebuilding, Japan’s Northeast.