Chris Broad’s look at the towns of Onagawa and Kesennuma are an inspiration.

Chris Broad, a British YouTuber living in Japan, visited towns on the northeast coast of Japan that were nearly wiped off the map after being hit by the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and subsequent tsunami. This look at how they are doing now, titled What Happened In Japan After The Tsunami, has garnered over 350,000 views in the month since it was originally posted on his channel Abroad in Japan, but really deserves more.

The video starts off in Onagawa which was hit by the brunt of the tsunami and lost 10 percent of its population along with 70 percent of the town itself. Left with this vast destruction, the Mayor Yoshiaki Suda took amazingly proactive steps to rebuild and revitalize the town in to a thriving center of commerce.

Residents of Onagawa include Hideki Konno who was left homeless by the tsunami, but now just seven years later is driving a Lambourgini thanks to his successful cardboard business. Next door is Yosuke Kajiya, who designs custom guitars which don’t use screws or glue and instead are constructed using traditional Japanese interlocking parts which can be seen in temples and castles.

▼ Oh, I want one of those bad. But at US$7,500 a piece,
I’ll just settle for the video of one for now.

The video then moves through Ishinomaki and its innovative Fisherman Call wake up service, and on to Kesennuma. Here we find the K-Port cafe which was established by locals and actor Ken Watanabe in 2013. Since then, despite his globetrotting lifestyle, Watanabe continues to keep close contact with the residents of Kesennuma, even sending a letter to K-Port every day.

Even today, tourists flock to Kesennuma in part to see the house that Ken built. However it is also in large part to experience the area’s famous hospitality, which even by Japanese standards is a cut above the rest, as explained in an interview with English teacher and current tourism official Nishant Annu.

Finally we visit Ichiyo Kanno, a woman who despite coping with more tragedy than one person should have to in her life, is the now proprietor of an award-winning bed & breakfast and arguably the “friendliest person in the world.”

After their house was decimated in the tsunami, Kanno and her husband completely rebuilt it, but also made additions so that they could open the Tsunakan Minshuku. Since then, the lodging has found success and attracted some famous regulars including Watanabe when he’s in town visiting his cafe.

It’s funny how seven years can seem like both a long and short time. For many in Japan, the March 11 earthquake and tsunami has already become a distant memory, and kids are growing up not knowing about it at all. And yet for many who were affected by it, sadly the pain lives on as if it were yesterday.

However, the people in this video are all shining examples that by forging ahead and not giving up, even when hit by the worst adversity imaginable, you can accomplish amazing things.

We’d like to thank Chris Broad for sharing these stories on the eighth anniversary of the Tohoku Earthquake, and also for helping to improve the reputation of all YouTubers in Japan from abroad by not desecrating a corpse.

Source, top image: YouTube/Abroad in Japan
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