Tohoku

Don’t forget: Yahoo! Japan to make disaster relief donation for every person who searches for “3.11” today

Four years on, the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis that befell Japan’s Tohoku region on March 11, 2011 have very little effect on the day-to-day lives of most people in the country. The rolling blackouts have stopped. Batteries and bottled water are once again readily available. Trains are running, and whole cities aren’t spending hours walking home from work or school.

But while a return to normalcy is a desirable, and ultimately necessary, part of recovery, it’s also important to remember what happened. To stem the forgetfulness that often accompanies the later stages of coping with tragedy, on March 11 Yahoo! Japan will be making a donation to the Tohoku recovery efforts for every person that searches for “3.11” through the company’s search engine.

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Imoni-kai: A hidden, delicious cultural gem of northern Japan

Hop on a train to off-the-beaten-path Yamagata Prefecture any weekend from September through November, and you’re bound to see crowds of people congregating and cooking pots of something delicious by the local river. Yup, imoni-kai season is in full swing!

Imoni (芋煮) is the name given to a taro root stew native to the Tohoku region of northern Japan. Apart from its delicious taste, imoni is also famous for the social aspects of its creation. Families traditionally congregate on a riverbank (the practice of which is known as imoni-kai, literally, “imoni gathering”) and cook the stew from scratch over a fire pit. In that sense, you can think of it a bit like an autumn version of o-hanami, the popular Japanese tradition of viewing cherry blossoms in the spring.

Join us after the jump for a glimpse at a unique cultural tradition of northern Japan which many Japanese people in other parts of the country have never even heard of!

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World famous shadow artist shines a light on Tohoku relief【Art】

Often life-altering events can inspire incredible artistic endeavors, and while the Great East Japan Earthquake is a tragic day for many people, that tragedy can inspire amazing creativity. One particular 89-year-old is using his skills to turn melancholy scenes into hopeful invigorating masterpieces.

Already well-known for delighting children with his character Keroyon, the frog who drives a red convertible, Seiji Fujishiro is probably most famous for his shadow art. These brilliant pieces of work show amazing scenes populated by his signature silhouetted elvish characters. Recently, he has turned his attention to the affected areas of the Tohoku region and has created astounding art from some iconic images created by the disaster.

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Tohoku aid charity Knit For Japan attempts world record blanket

More than three years on from the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, there are still roughly 260,000 people living in temporary housing facilities. Since Tohoku gets mighty cold in the winter, sending these evacuees some lovely hand-made afghans is a woolly hug that lets them know they are not forgotten.

But that didn’t go far enough for Yokohama-based knitting teacher Bernd Kestler, who wanted to send them the biggest blanket the world has ever seen!

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Japanese Americans tell STORIES FROM TOHOKU

Filmmakers Dianne Fukami and Debra Nakatomi are sansei (third-generation Japanese Americans) from California who met while serving on the 2009 Japanese American Leadership Delegation, a cross-cultural program sponsored by the U.S.-Japan Council. When the triple tragedy of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster hit the northeastern region of Japan on March 11, 2011, Fukami and Nakatomi decided to make a documentary that told the stories of survivors.

They met a woman who managed to recover her old kimono and makes dolls out of the fabric; a struggling organic farmer in Fukushima; a cafe owner who cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner to refugees in a shelter during the first six months after the disaster; and mothers in Fukushima who commute to a kindergarten an hour away so that their children can play outside.

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Tohoku Rokkonsai to showcase northern Japan’s six biggest summer festivals all in one place

Kyoto, Osaka, Nara…southern Japan seems to get all the love from both international and Japanese tourists alike. But what about the rest of the country, like the six northern prefectures? Northern Japan, known as Tohoku in Japanese (東北, “the northeast”), is a hidden gem full of unique cultural traditions, unspoiled natural scenery, and some of the warmest people you’ll ever meet, despite the chilling winters.

This weekend is a better time than ever to hop on the bullet train up north to take part in the Tohoku Rokkonsai “mega-festival”. The festival began in 2011 to lift the spirits of the people of Tohoku after the deadly earthquake and tsunami just months earlier. The highlight of the festivities is a massive parade composed of segments from all six of Tohoku’s major summer festivals. Where else can you experience the excitement of SIX major festivals all at once FOR FREE??

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Tohoku man honors brother killed in tsunami with hundreds of blue carp streamers

In an empty field in Higashi-Matsushima, Miyagi Prefecture, where many homes stood before a tsunami swept them away, there are hundreds of blue carp streamers floating in the breeze. Kento Itoh, 21 years old, has collected them from all over the country in honor of his brother Ritsu, killed in the March 11 disaster when he was just five years old.

On that day, Kento was in Sendai, his middle brother was at school and his father was in the hospital, so none of them were at home when the tsunami struck their small town. Ritsu, his mother and his grandparents were carried off by the surging waters. Only Ritsu’s body was ever found. The rest are still officially missing.

With his father ill, it fell to Kento as the oldest son to identify his brother’s corpse at the morgue and to search among the ruins for his missing family. He did not find them, but among the mud and muck, he did find something: Ritsu’s beloved blue carp streamer.

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Tokyo Tower displays special message ahead of Tohoku earthquake and tsunami anniversary

A special message is being displayed on Tokyo Tower in memory of those lost during the March 11, 2011 earthquake and resulting tsunami, as well as to promote a sense of unity across the country.

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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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Heartbreaking video game remembers the victims of the 2011 Tohoku tsunami, raises money for survivors

Compared to older forms of media such as books and movies, the video game industry is still somewhat wet behind the ears. But as technology advances and developers become increasingly able to realise their creative visions without having to rein in their imaginations due to hardware limitations, we are finally reaching the point where games are able to not just entertain but challenge us both intellectually and viscerally, creating emotive experiences and acting as vehicles for genuinely engaging tales.

9.03m does precisely that. Developed by independent Scottish game studio Space Budgie, the game, whose proceeds go towards those affected by the disaster, stands as a memorial to the victims of the 2011 Tohoku tsunami, questing players with gathering the possessions of those lost in the tsunami, which have been carried across the ocean from Japan to America, with each object telling the story of a lost soul.

At once heartrending and beautiful, this is a title that deserves the attention of not just every gamer but every person with access to a PC.

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Inmate of Tohoku prison within nuclear evacuation zone sues TEPCO for emotional distress

It’s been three years since the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami disaster swallowed up whole cities and caused one of the worst nuclear power disasters in history. For much of the world the devastating event is a distant memory – except for people in California who, for some reason, to this day think swimming in the ocean is going to give them three eyes or four boobs or something.

But for many living near the crippled Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant, like the inmates at a Kagoshima City prison located within the nuclear evacuation zone, the Tohoku earthquake and the persistent effects of the subsequent nuclear disaster altered their lives forever; so says a former inmate who is formally suing TEPCO for emotional distress.

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Japanese netizens irate after bureaucrat blogs that “The elderly should hurry up and die”

Much to the  joy of political comedians, recent years have seen a sharp increase in international political gaffs thanks to the Internet and the ease with which stupid comments can go viral. And Japan is no stranger to this trend, with numerous politicians having resigned after letting inappropriate jokes slip to the wrong reporter.

Now one Japanese career bureaucrat in his 50s is in hot water for his inflammatory, supposedly anonymous blog posts. But many Japanese netizens feel his punishment is far too light.

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In Memory of the Victims of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami

This afternoon in Tokyo, a government-hosted remembrance ceremony will be held for the 15,881 people who died and the 2,668 who remain unaccounted for as a result of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck Northeastern Japan two years ago today. The Emperor and Empress of Japan will also be present at the ceremony, at which the nation will be asked to observe a moment of silence beginning at 2:46 p.m..

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Possible Debris From Tohoku Earthquake Reaches American Shores

As we quickly approach the one year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake the have been signs that debris from the massive tsunami has finally touched down on American shores.

Recently residents of northwest Washington state have been finding more and more fishing gear and garbage with Japanese writing on it since last weekend.  In fact, in the past two months one man found 15 pieces of Japanese debris has been reported which is a sharp increase from the only 4 pieces found in the previous 46 years.

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[On Location at Somin Naked Festival] I Was So Cold I Actually Thought I Was Going To Die

Japan’s premier naked festival, Sominsai (Somin Festival), was held this year on January 29 at Kokuseki Temple in Iwate Prefecture.

The name “naked” is somewhat misleading though, as participants are required to wear a fundoshi, a piece of white cloth which can best be descried as a traditional Japanese G-string. This scant clothing offers little protection from the blistering, below-freezing cold participants are expected to endure. Nevertheless, the toughest of men from across Japan come to test their mettle by trekking through grueling icy course from the temple to the river that’s cold enough to make you feel like you’re dying.

I know this because I took part.

That’s right, your fearless reporter put his life at risk to bring the experience of Kokuseki’s Sominsai to you, our beloved readers.

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