Sendai – 5 Months Post Earthquake

September 16, 2011 · 9 comments

Everyone knows about the Great Tohoku Earthquake which hit Japan on March 11th 2011, I mentioned the tohoku earthquake previously as I was based in Fukushima so certainly felt the 9.0 shock (was previously a 8.9 but upgraded after analysis). 5 months later, a lot of damage repair and things are mostly back to normal for the majority of Japan.

Of course Sendai, the worst hit city still has issues, and I was keen to visit to see how it fared 5 months later. I was a bit surprised when I arrived via bus to see this site:

Sendai sun rise

A normal city

AER Plaza Sendai Japan

Shopping Mall in Sendai

That’s right. Like every other city in Japan. Sendai has been repaired and getting on as per normal. A few less visitors naturally, but everything functioning. Apart from the posters supporting the people and area’s effected, you wouldn’t be able to tell what happened here 5 months previous.

However out of the city (you’ll need a car, trains aren’t running to these areas) the effects are still very much there. Buildings destroyed, debris everywhere, and long queues for food at the limited places that stock now. The roads seem to mostly be cleaned up, so people can get around main areas (just not all residential areas).

There are many areas of piled up debris where things have been cleared. But it does beg the question: where does the mess go afterwards? It’s virtually unrecoverable, a mixture of concrete, plastics, ground, metals and whatever was in the sea at the time makes it difficult to recycle – this is pure waste that needs to be disposed of.

But progress seems to have stopped in terms of clear up. I didn’t see many people working to clear the area I passed through. Again though in these sorts of things, I think photos explain better than my words ever can:

Sendai factory after tsunami

Factory has significant damage but still standing

Sendai earthquake damage

A pile of debris

Earthquake and tsunami damaged Shell gas station

Destroyed Shell garage

Sendai earthquake damage

Notice the building in the background

Sendai damage

More earthquake damage

convenience store after earthquake damage

Convenience store

Boat after tsunami

Boat on land

Temporary housing for earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan

Temporary housing for victims

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

EmmaculateReflections September 19, 2011 at 1:04 PM

This was such a catastrophic event and the progress that the cities have been able to make is truly remarkable. What interested you most about the recovery process?

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AdventureRob September 20, 2011 at 1:12 AM

I don’t know, I just wanted to see their strategy for dealing with such an event. It appears clear it all up into piles beside the road is that strategy, but I don’t know where they are going next with it. I guess clear up the smaller roads? But they need to get rid of the debris at some point.


Kiera House September 20, 2011 at 10:09 AM

This earthquake was such horrible tragedy, Japanese are strong people, they will recover, I know!


AdventureRob September 24, 2011 at 12:50 AM

Yes, they are already doing quite well, it’s just the need to rebuild now.


Lissie October 3, 2011 at 2:32 AM

Wow somewhat not surprised they are a lot quicker cleaning up than Christchurch has been – the CBD is still all fenced off and they are still arguing about what to demolish
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AdventureRob October 4, 2011 at 8:18 AM

Really? I think they need to take some lessons from the earthquake experts then. Paperwork slows things down so much around the world, It’s funny how emergencies used to ignore that side of things and simply let rebuild commense immediately. Chiba had a lot of damaged ground after the earthquake, and it was quickly repaired greatly in part from community spirit .

I believe the last USA earthquakes in California were cleared up quickly with the road network rebuilt within a few days, but I can see it taking a lot longer to fix the same damage in the future due to bureaucracy.


Jun August 8, 2012 at 7:43 AM

Great post. You mentioned that you had to get around in a car to visit the earthquake devastated areas? Would there be any way to take a bus/train to see those areas? I don`t have a driver`s license in Japan and I plan to make a trip to Sendai later this month. Thanks for any info you can provide!


AdventureRob August 8, 2012 at 11:36 AM

To be honest I’m not sure how it is now. I wouldn’t bet on a train but a bus could be a possibility now.

One way to get there would be to volunteer for a charity that needs help and they could drive you there, although you are likely to be taken to evacuated areas rather than the areas actually hit by the tsunami if you did that. You might need to research it a bit more, sorry I can’t help with that one.


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