TIDAL WAVE STORY
This site-specific work is located at Fire Station 13 on Beacon Hill, Seattle's original Japanese residential neighborhood. Installed in 1987 as part of a 1% for Art Project for the Seattle Fire Department, it tells a true story about a farmer who saved his settlement's 400 inhabitants from a tidal wave.
The farmer, the headman of the village and its oldest member, could see the tidal wave approaching from his mountaintop home; the people in the fishing village below could not. And, a tidal wave hadn't been seen in over a hundred years; no one except the village headman knew what the receding waters meant.
Unable to notify everyone at once, the old man set his newly harvested rice crop on fire, hoping that the people would come to his aid and be safely above the immense wave when it struck. All the villagers, even the old people and children, rushed to the top of the mountain to help put out the fire, there being no other fire brigade in a small community. He was able to save all 400 lives, although the village was completely destroyed.
Fire saved lives that water would have destroyed, instead of the other way around.
This story was recorded by Lafcadio Hearn in the late 1800's in Japan.
Tidal Wave Story by Ellen Ziegler ArtBeat, Seattle Office of Arts and Culture,