tsunami

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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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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Google to Photograph Street Views of Evacuated Town in Fukushima

It wasn’t just the earthquake or tsunami of March 11, 2011 that shattered the town of Namie in Fukushima Prefecture, it was the subsequent radiation. Slowly creeping across the once fertile land, it ripped families from their homes and banished them to evacuation centers elsewhere. Today, nearly two years after the worse nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, the entire 86 square miles of Namie have been declared uninhabitable due to high levels of radioactive cesium. Even if families wanted to return, they can’t.

Amid this tragic loss, Google Street View is giving the people of Namie a chance to visit the town they were forced to flee.

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Capcom Ōkami Collaboration Helping Restore Tsunami-Struck Town, and So Can You

Playstation 2 and Wii owners will likely be familiar with Ōkami, the adventure game set in ancient Japan that features an absolutely gorgeous wood-cut, cell-shaded graphic design.

The game puts players in control of the wolf incarnation of Shintō goddess Amaterasu, and quests them with using a magical, life-giving paintbrush to transform a dark, cursed world into one of plants, trees and flowers, as well as battling a few demons and evil spirits along the way.

On the same theme of restoration, a local website based in Rikuzentakata, a coastal town in Iwate prefecture severely damaged by the March 11 tsunami, has launched a special range of products officially backed by Capcom, the makers of Ōkami, with profits from their sale going to towards rebuilding the town and, much like the game, “restoring nature to its once beautiful state.”

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These Japanese Disaster Shelters Look a lot Like Dragon Ball Space Pods

In Dragon Ball lore, when the Saiyans would dispatch their warriors to  conquer or destroy distant planets, they would send them in spherical pod-like spaceships called Attack Balls. These vessels were built to keep their occupant safe across light years of intergalactic travel, and durable enough to withstand impact upon arrival. In short, they were the ultimate personal protective device.

What does this have to do with anything? Japanese auto parts manufacturer, Pond, has developed a disaster shelter called Life Armour that looks almost exactly like the Attack Balls from Dragon Ball.

And we bet you’ll never guess how much it costs…

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Expensive “Cybernetic Mumification” of Japan’s Tree of Hope Draws Criticism from the Net

The city of Rikuzentakata was thoroughly devastated by the March 11 tsunami.  However, following the destruction a single 27 meter 200 year-old pine tree was left standing, the sole survivor of a forest of 70,000 trees along the coast line.  The tree had become a symbol of hope for the country and local government vowed to protect it at all costs.

However, for the past year the tree’s health had been fading fast and it doesn’t have much longer to live.  And so the city’s government is going to enact a preservation scheme which is rubbing Japanese netizens the wrong way due to its 150,000,000 yen (US$1.9M) price tag.

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Japan Set to Erect 7.5 Meter Middle Finger Salute to Incoming Tsunamis

Needless to say, Japan has had their fill of Tsunamis.  After the devastation of the 11 March Tohoku earth quake, the nation would like to give a huge FU to any future tsunami coming our way.

And so, three huge Japanese contractors are working on a special surprise for the next tsunami that tries to hit the shores of Wakayama prefecture in the form of a gigantic steel column. If successful it would be so poetically beautiful… if the Japanese only knew the beauty of the middle finger.

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Lovers’ Final Emails Moments Before Tsunami: “Don’t get yourself killed!”

Text messages sent from Arisa Miura, a city worker who died in the tsunami that struck Minami-Sanriku in Miyagi Prefecture, and her boyfriend were released to the press on March 5th. In the 5 texts, which were sent between the two lovers after the earthquake and before Miura was swept away, one can see the depth of their affection in their consideration for the other’s safety even in a hectic emergency situation. Read More

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