2011 Tohoku Earthquake

Five years on, Google Maps updates images of areas affected by 2011 earthquake and tsunami

Google Maps gives the world an opportunity to see how far the people of Tohoku have come since a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami turned their lives upside-down.

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LoCoS: The universal language we’ll be using by 2065, according to legendary Japanese designer

Yukio Ota is a legendary graphic designer in Japan. As the creator of the green “running man” pictogram that features on the nation’s emergency exit signs which have since spread to Europe, Canada and the Asia-Pacific, Ota is a frontrunner when it comes to developing images that convey a thousand words.

Now the designer of the exit sign is making headlines for his long-term project that aims to have the world using a universal language by 2065. Called the Lovers’ Communication System, or LoCoS, the standardised system based on pictographs has the power to overcome language barriers and revolutionise the world of communication as we know it.

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Tokyo schoolgirls invent eco and cost-friendly portable toilet for disaster relief【Video】

Although we explored public restrooms the world over in a previous article, we left out the fact that many refugees, natural disaster survivors, and other displaced people have no access to the modern plumbing many of us take for granted. For those living in areas where public toilets are unavailable, a trip to the bathroom is at best a chore, and at worst a major sanitary concern.

Luckily technological advances are being made in order to help remedy these problems, and so far 2015 has been a promising year in that regard. UK researchers and volunteers were able to successfully create an urine-powered outhouse, while over in Japan a high school girls’ volunteer club recently came up with a new economic and hygienic portable toilet option.

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Over 150 whales found beached in Ibaraki, same thing happened before 2011 Tohoku earthquake

A little over four years ago, a week before the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, 50 melon-headed whales were found beached in Ibaraki Prefecture, only about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the earthquake’s epicenter.

Now the same omen of bad things to come has happened again. On April 9, about 150 melon-headed whales were found beached in Ibaraki Prefecture. As emergency teams race to save the whales, one thought is sitting in the back of their minds: is this foreshadowing another giant earthquake?

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One man’s mission to record the stories of Tohoku survivors “revisited” by lost loved ones

What happens after we die? Is it possible to communicate with loved ones after they are gone? And if not, how can we explain the stories of those who claim to have done so? These questions are pertinent to the work of journalist Shuji Okuno, who researches the yūrei banashi, or ghost stories, of relatives bereaved by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

Over 18,000 people were killed in the disaster in March 2011, most by drowning; including 2,601 bodies that were never recovered. Okuno has been researching and recording the stories of Tohoku people bereaved by the disaster who say they were visited by the spirits of their deceased family members, often at the exact moment of their passing.

But reporting on ghost sightings in a disaster zone is controversial work. In an interview with Tohoku-area newspaper Kahoku Shimpo this week, Okuno spoke about the stories he has uncovered and the criticism he continues to face.

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First nuclear power plant set to restart in Japan after 2011 meltdown

Against much public backlash, two reactors at a nuclear power plant in Sendai are scheduled to be restarted. These will be the first to restart operations after all the country’s nuclear plants were shut down indefinitely following the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011. 

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Japanese scientist predicts another major earthquake in Japan by 2017

According to Japanese scientists, Japan might be in for another big one.

Dr. Masaaki Kimura, a seismologist who reportedly predicted the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, recently appeared on Japanese TV to share his theory about the next major earthquake to strike Japan. Based on his estimates, the quake will occur by 2017 and will be of similar magnitude to 2011’s. Similarly, astronomer Yoshio Kushida continues to insist that a big quake is not too far away. Keep reading to find out more about their respective theories and which specific areas of Japan they’ve got on the radar.

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Tweeters urge Japanese to donate to Serbian flood relief as repayment for Tōhoku support

Japan is no stranger to natural disasters, and the world rose up in support after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011 left thousands dead and millions homeless. Now it’s time for Japanese people to repay that kindness by supporting one of their greatest benefactors through their own period of crisis.

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Kit Kat aims to bring train travelers back to Tōhoku with ticket biscuit

Japan probably has the world’s largest and most bizarre selection of Kit Kat flavours on offer, but this latest release is about more than just tickling your tastebuds. Nestle Japan is offering a specially-packaged version of their classic biscuit to help recovery in areas destroyed by the devastating tsunami of March 2011.

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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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