Hiromitsu Shinkawa must have resigned himself to his fate when he was swept away by the retreating tsunami that roared ashore in his home town of Minami Soma in Fukushima prefecture.
As the wave approached, Shinkawa took the fateful decision to return home to collect belongings. Minutes later he was out at sea clinging to a piece of the roof from his own home.
Incredibly, he was spotted by a maritime self-defence force destroyer taking part in the rescue effort as he clung to the wreckage with one hand and waved a self-made red flag with the other. He had been at sea for two days.