Japan's tsunami survivors call lost loves on the phone of the wind

“When I came back to the house and looked up at the sky, there were thousands of stars, it was like looking at a jewel box,” the 67-year old says. “I cried and cried and knew then that so many people must have died.”

Sasaki’s wife was one of more than 20,000 people in northeastern Japan killed by the disaster that struck on March 11, 2011.

Many survivors say the unconnected phone line in the town of Otsuchi helps them keep in touch with their loved ones and gives them some solace as they grapple with their grief.

Earlier in the day, Sachiko Okawa calls Toichiro, her late husband to whom she was married for 44 years. She asks him what he has been doing with his days since he was swept away by the tsunami a decade ago.

“I’m lonely,” she says finally, her voice cracking, and asks Toichiro to watch over their family. “Bye for now, I’ll be back soon.”