In remembrance of those who passed away during the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Our reporter Mr. Sato is a man of habit. We’ve known him to line up in extreme conditions for the latest iPhone and for his daring excursions in finding the hottest lucky bags of the new year. However, out of all the annual pilgrimages and traditions Mr. Sato has upheld, there is none more somber and moving than his visit to the plaza across the street from Shinjuku shopping complex Alta ever year on March 11.

It all began in 2012, just one year after the devastating 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake which took 16,000 lives and displaced over 50,000 individuals. Mr. Sato was passing through Shinjuku when his attention was caught by a large screen on the Alta building; the screen was broadcasting the Tokyo memorial ceremony for those who lost their lives in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Despite Shinjuku being one of the core entertainment districts of Tokyo, it was here at this screen that Mr. Sato and fellow pedestrians found a way to pay their respects.

▼ The scene in 2012, from the SoraNews24 archives:

Though the broadcast was only a one-time event, Mr. Sato found himself at the same spot for six years until the broadcast resumed in 2019. This year as well Mr. Sato journeyed out again, except he was in for another surprise.

Like usual, Mr. Sato arrived at the plaza in front of the screen within the early afternoon. Given the recent COVID-19 outbreak and the Japanese government’s suggestions to cancel large gatherings, Mr. Sato had no particular expectations for this year’s broadcast. However, at exactly 2:46 PM, the moment the 2011 earthquake shook the foundations of Japanese society, the screen flickered to a message from Alta.

▼ Translation below photo

“Our Wish for the Revival of Areas Struck by the Earthquake

For the people who are from the areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami, taking new steps moving towards rehabilitation, we pray for their good health. As part of the Isetan Mitsukoshi group, we all come to gather our strengths together for the sake of a brighter future.”

Mr. Sato was deeply moved by the message. Though its contents were similar to previous memorial broadcasts in the past, he felt it was a meaningful gesture. He decided to stay and see whether that was the end of the broadcast, but after two minutes, the screen abruptly changed.

An upbeat melody filled the air and Mr. Sato blinked in astonishment as he realized he was watching a musical-style video. Titled Mirai 2061, the musical’s stage was set to the background of a futuristic Fukushima 50 years from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Featuring a time-traveling grandmother and grandchild stopping at different years between 2020 and 2060, the musical’s main motif could be summed up with one line: “Mirai ga fushigi,” which translates to “The future is mysterious.

▼ Full musical below! The musical featured J-drama stars such as Nana Seino (From Today It’s My Turn!) and Kento Hayashi (Ossan’s Love).

Mr. Sato took a deep breath, reflecting over how it has been almost a decade since the tragic events of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. While nobody can predict the future, perhaps the mysterious beauty of the future is what drives us to continue, to create, and to hope. It was through the memorial of the past and the aspirations of the future that full respect can be paid to those who were affected. And from here on, Mr. Sato was reminded, the future is ours to make.

Source, images ©SoraNews24
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