2011 Tohoku Earthquake

Grab some tissues: Beloved cat lost in Tohoku disaster comes home over three years later

The Tohoku disaster of March, 2011 continues to impact the daily lives of the people of the region even to this day. We have no doubt that its effects will linger in Japan for decades to come, so it’s easy to see why nearly every story related to the disaster leaves us teary-eyed. This story will also likely have you reaching for the tissues, but at least they’ll be happy tears.

On Friday last week, one elderly couple in Ofunato City, Iwate Prefecture was reunited with the beloved cat they’d lost in the 3/11 disaster — just over three years since the adorable feline went missing and was presumed dead.

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Spooky shots of the abandoned Fukushima disaster area taken with a drone

Japanese aerial photography company HEXaMedia flew a drone equipped with cameras through Tomioka, Japan, the largely abandoned town that played host to the Fukushima nuclear meltdown.

It edited together a number of spooky shots into a 7-minute video that you can watch here. Check out the most stunning shots in the gallery below.

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Boat believed to be debris from Japan’s 2011 tsunami drifts all the way to Washington

A small boat thought to have journeyed across the Pacific Ocean from Japan after the March 2011 tsunami has washed up in Washington this week. The boat, which is encrusted with unusual-looking barnacles, is believed to have travelled an incredible 6,500 kilometres (4,559 miles) across the ocean in the three years since the tsunami and earthquake disaster struck east Japan.

State officials are checking the boat, which drifted ashore in Ocean Shores on Monday, to confirm its origin. It’s the second boat to wash ashore in Washington state in two weeks.

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Off-road bikes added to Japan’s disaster relief arsenal

In light of emergency vehicles being unable to reach victims of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department has announced the addition of 10 off-road bikes to their force.

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Yahoo! Japan donates 5x projected amount to Tohoku after unexpected number of people participate

In tribute of the third anniversary of the Tohoku Earthquake on 11 March, Yahoo! Japan held a charity drive pledging 10 yen (US$0.10) for every person who entered “3.11” into their search engine.

Relying on the data that Japan’s most used search engine was privy to, they hypothesized that a maximum of 5 million yen ($48,000) from 500,000 unique IP addresses would be generated and set a limit at that amount. Boy, were they wrong.

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Several Tokyo train lines were momentarily shut down today in honor of Tohoku Earthquake victims

Tokyu Corporation, which runs train lines in the Tokyo Area, announced earlier that at around 2:44 p.m. today all of its trains would stop as part of a training drill to simulate the emergency situation that occurred three years ago today in much of Eastern Japan. It also announced on Twitter that Tokyo’s subway lines run by Toei and Tokyo Metro would stop at this time out of respect for those who suffered during the Great Tohoku Earthquake of 2011.

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Remembering the people of Tohoku three years on

At 2:46 p.m. today, exactly three years will have passed since a Magnitude 9.0 earthquake shook Japan to its very core, moments later sending an enormous tidal wave that claimed tens of thousands of lives in the Tohoku region.

Today is a day to remember the people who are no longer with us, and to think of those whose lives were changed forever–many of whom were displaced from their homes and are still trying to start anew.

But today should also be seen as something of a gift. Those of us who came away from March 11, 2011 unscathed or are fortunate enough never to have known loss like the people of Tohoku are given days like today to pause and take stock of what we have. Whether or not you observe a moment’s silence this afternoon, and wherever you are in the world, try to keep Japan in the back of your mind today, but also try to look a little closer to home. Use today to effect some positive change in the world or in your own life, however small and seemingly insignificant. Donate to a charity you believe in; call your mother; switch off your phone for an hour and look at all of the cool stuff around you; start work on that book that you’ve been crafting in your mind for the past five years; buy some nicotine patches instead of another pack of cigs; book that holiday you’ve been meaning to take; pay for the guy in line behind you in Starbucks; tell your dog that he really is a good boy; make an awesome cake, then sit with a pal and stuff it into your faces while pretending to be dinosaurs.

As dramatic as it may sound, days like March 11, 2011 are firm reminders that sometimes there isn’t a tomorrow to put things off until, so make the most of today. Ganbare, Tohoku!

Need some inspiration? Maybe one of these groups could use some help:

Japan Red Cross Society / Cancer Research UK / (RED) 
Global Giving / Save the Children / World Vision / WWF

Lycra-clad Super Sentai descend on Taiwan to… pick up trash?!

Japan sure knows how to say thanks in a unique way! Super Sentai (not to be confused with hentai!) were on hand to save the day in Taiwan by rescuing an area from rubbish, in a street-cleaning event that began as a way of showing gratitude for Taiwan’s contributions to the Tohoku disaster relief effort. And what expresses those feelings better than people running around in flashy skin-tight suits?

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10-year-old letter arrives from daughter lost to tsunami (you might need tissues for this)

‘I wonder if you’ll have a grandchild when you get this letter?’  These are the words written by a woman 10 years ago, before she lost her life in the March 2011 tsunami. Her mother and father were shocked to find the letter containing them arrive in the mail this January. While there was no Hollywood movie ending where their beloved daughter turned up alive and well, the letter has at least given them a chance to hear some of the things she never had the chance to tell them in life.

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70 Japanese students volunteer to help clean Canada’s shores of Tohoku Tsunami debris

On 11 March, 2011 Hiroki Takai was studying at a university in Vancouver. Instead of feeling helpless at the steadily flowing images of destruction in the media following the Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami, he quickly took action and gathered other Japanese students to raise money for their homeland. Thanks to the students’ efforts and the generosity of the people of Vancouver the “Japan Love Project” managed to raise CAN$320,000 (US$288,000) in aid.

Now, with the 3-year anniversary of the Great Tohoku Earthquake approaching, Takai wanted to pay the kindness of the Canadians back. As a part of the International Volunteer University Student Association (IVUSA) he asked for a team to travel to the West coast of Canada to help clean up the still-increasing driftage that is washing up on its shores. Headed by fourth-year Ritsumeikan University student Yusuke Oike, a crew of 70 students answered the call.

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57-year-old man acquires diver’s license to search for wife lost in tsunami

A grisly truth is coming to light as Japan’s Tohoku region recovers from the massive earthquake and tsunami that occurred in 2011. When the water receded from damaged areas, it took much of what had been struck, including the bodies of victims.

Nearly three years have passed since the disaster, but there are still residents of the afflicted area classified as missing. As the country moves on and begins to turn its focus to more pressing matters, one 57-year-old man seeking closure has decided to venture into the sea that claimed his wife to personally search for her remains.

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Pokémon train brings smiles to Tohoku kids’ faces

The Pokémon with YOU Train is a collaboration between JR East and Pokémon that’s been bringing smiles to the faces of kids affected by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, and this week it made a special appearance in Chiba!

We’re not kids any more, but having seen how awesome it is, we really wish we could take a ride on this thing!!

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Used undies, rotten food, expired meds and other disaster “aid” Japan doesn’t want

Although it has been more than two and a half years since the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan, much of the area is still in need of disaster aid for the recovery efforts. But before you look around your house for items to donate, take a look at what volunteer groups, local governments and aid recipients themselves would rather you keep at home. And you might be very surprised to what else Twitter users have deemed the most “unnecessary things at a disaster zone.”

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Pattern of quakes from New Zealand to Japan stokes fears of another major disaster

From 5 August, fears of another major earthquake in Japan began to spread on Twitter. The source of the unease was a screenshot from a Japanese talk show, which laid out the following series of earthquakes leading up to the Tohoku earthquake in 2011, alongside a similar series of earthquakes which have struck in recent days.

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Tsunami Survivors Share Their Stories: Resurrecting Otsuchi, Japan

Following the most powerful earthquake ever to hit Japan, the sheer scale of the tsunami which smashed into northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011 was unprecedented. Coastal communities were devastated by waves which at their highest reached 40.5 meters above sea level, travelled up to 10km inland, and swept everything along with them. Mud, debris, cars, boats, houses, and fire.

The small town of Otsuchi in Iwate Prefecture was one of the hardest hit. About 10 percent of the population perished or went missing, including the mayor and many town officials. Iwate’s leading local newspaper, the Iwate Tokai Shimbun, was unable to continue operating as their printing press was washed out to sea, and two of their reporters were killed.

In 2012, a group of journalists banded together to once again start reporting the news from Otsuchi to support the town’s recovery, using the Internet to connect with people. Tsunami survivors have shared their stories of terror, panic, suffering and hope for the future through this new newspaper, known as the Otsuchi Mirai Shimbun (“Otsuchi Future Times”). These stories have been translated from the original Japanese into English by a team of 28 hard-working volunteers from Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S., and published on the second anniversary of the disaster as a Kindle ebook.

Here are some excerpts from these true stories of survival:

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“Miracle Pine” Monument Honors Single Remaining Tree in Forest Ravaged By 2011 Tohoku Tsunami

The town of Rikuzentakata was once famous for its picturesque shoreline painted with 70,000 pine trees. However, when the ocean waters finally receded after the tsunami of March 11, 2011, only one tree remained. Standing proud at over 80 feet, this single pine battled on for 18 months after the tsunami until finally perishing due to the overwhelming amount of salt that was introduced to the surrounding earth. Although no longer standing tall, the memory of “the miracle pine” will live on thanks to a newly erected monument in its honor.

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