The Japanese Earthquake – 2 Years On

March 11, 2013 · 2 comments

It seems almost a lifetime ago now, when I was working in Fukushima in a regular job when mother nature rudely interrupted my course in life and set me in a new direction. Maybe I should have taken advantage of living more because a lot of people, over 15,000 lost their life within close proximity of me on the same day. One day a regular Japanese landscape, with homes, schools, shops, gas stations, and the like. The next: acres of land swept away with the water.

While I briefly saw the damage a year ago, I was being driven around my my (then) girlfriends parents so didn’t really get to take any decent photos or follow my own path. This year however, I retuned in Sendai and rented a car for the day to have a look at the damage and see what progress has been made. Please note, most of these photos were taken off the coast of Miyagi prefecture not Fukushima, which is a bit more north, but still hit just as bad.

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The basic tsunami defence system, and an evacuation sign

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A boat where a building used to be

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This shows the new sea defences and the old swept landcape

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Manhole shows previous land level

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The old entrance to someones house

tsunami damage of swept houses in japan

Former houses

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I guess these were found during the clean up

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The only house remaining in acres

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Inside another single building which stood up among all others

As you can see, it has mostly been cleaned up now, but no reconstruction can be seen anywhere. New defence barriers are in place, but other than that nothing. The waste has just been moved elsewhere. Japan is in a difficult situation on what to do here. I mean, who would want to live here knowing what happened? The amount of people that died. For a country without much flat land to build on, it’s quite a dilemma. I have no before photos so I can’t directly compare, but it seems like this area will remain abandoned for now.

People argue from 2 perspectives – one is to leave it and keep it as a reminder to how powerful mother nature is. The other is to build over it and show strength in community and the ability to move on. Pretty much everyone wanted it all cleared up though, which is seems like it has been now. Of course there is still a lot of people who no longer have jobs or a place to live which they earnt themselves. I am unaware of the figures of people still living in shelters/halls but I don’t think it is that great now.

Finally I’d like to end this post on a photo of the outside of the building I took a photo from inside above. It is one of the few new things in this area. A sakura (cherry blossom) tree. Because this was one of the few remaining buildings standing in the area, it only seems appropriate to use it as a symbol of hope. There is nothing more Japanese than sakura so it seemed appropriate to plant it next to this building. It hasn’t grown yet, let alone bloomed (cherry blossom only blooms once a year and for a week) but hopefully it will lead this area on to new beginnings.

Hope Sakura tree next to tsunami victim building

Sakura tree being grown next to surviving building

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lorna March 12, 2013 at 9:23 PM

It does not seem like 2 years ago, the devastation was immense – I can remember seeing it on the news, it must of been frightening to be there. I can only hope most people who were affected have started to rebuild their lives by now.

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AdventureRob March 19, 2013 at 5:25 PM

Most of the biggest hit victims have either moved to be with family elsewhere in the country or have got themselves stuck from what I’ve seen. No one wants to invest in houses or jobs in the area now, so it’s still very limited for some people there.

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