tsunami

Hooked on helping: The man who is running the length of Japan for tsunami relief

Aaron Porter is a man on a mission. Giving up drinking in 1998 and smoking two years later, he took up running. Before he knew it, his new hobby had become his life’s passion, and he began taking part in marathons, half-marathons and ultra-marathons, running thousands of miles in a single year. Running, Aaron notes, was his recovery.

Now, though, he wants to help others recover. With the goal of running the entire length of Japan, from Kyushu to Hokkaido, Aaron is aiming to raise as much money and awareness for tsunami relief as he can. To do this, however, he needs sponsorship. Which is where you come in.

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Tsunami survival by the numbers, it doesn’t take much

It shouldn’t be hard to remember the sheer force that a tsunami can unleash on land. And with the recent quakes in Chile, many parts of the world wonder if another is not too far away.  But there’s an important thing about a tsunami that is not often discussed, and that’s how big it has to be to jeopardize your life.

Recently a Twitter user posted a photo of this safety poster which has caused those who saw it to wish it was seen all over the country. You might be able to understand this graphic which shows the water level versus the probability of death without understanding the Japanese, but let’s look at it a little more closely.

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Way to go! Japan earns top spot and two others in top 10 most dangerous world cities ranking

It’s always nice to be number one for something, even if it is number one in the “cities where the earth is most likely to kill you” ranking. That’s why we’re proud to announce that Tokyo and Yokohama were declared the cities at highest risk of natural disaster by Zurich-based Swiss Reinsurance (Swiss Re) in a 2013 study, whose findings were recently announced.

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Tohoku tsunami survivor’s $12K camera: heart-felt gift or PR stunt?

Three years ago, Japan’s northeastern region was devastated by a triple disaster of a Magnitude 9.0 earthquake, an ensuing tsunami that wiped away whole towns and caused the meltdown of a nuclear power plant. Affected deeply by the tragedy, Japan has since rallied together as a country to support those who lost loved ones, livelihoods and homes.

Last week, as a part of remembering the three years that have passed since the disaster, famed German camera maker Leica gave a high-end camera worth 1,200,000 yen (US$12,000) to a high school student whose community was devastated by the tsunami. Initially touched by the show of support, Japanese netizens began a heated conversation online about whether the very generous gift was a heart-felt present or just a PR stunt for the well-known camera maker.

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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

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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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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Limited Hayao Miyazaki figurines created for Tsunami Relief

Martin Hsu and Bigshot Toyworks have teamed up to create a limited run of “Miya-san” figures modeled after acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki.

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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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The unfortunate implications of Seoul’s tsunami-shaped City Hall

Located right in the middle of Seoul’s central Jung District, the grassy lawns of Seoul Plaza provide residents and visitors alike with a respite from the hustle and bustle of the Korean capital.

Of course, the tranquility of your surroundings is heavily influenced by which way you’re facing, so if you’re really looking to relax, you might want to take a seat on the grass with your back to the building that looks like a colossal, deadly tidal wave about to crash down on you.

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Previously unseen CCTV footage of March 2011 tsunami is intense 【Video】

Earlier this year, we brought you videos shot by those who fled the wall of water that the March 11, 2011 earthquake brought to Northeastern Japan. As shocking as they were, most – thankfully – were taken from relatively far away by the towns’ residents once they had reached comparative safety. The following footage taken in Iwate Prefecture, however, was recorded right where the tsunami hit by security and roadside cameras.

The footage shows the awesome, raw power of the tsunami, and gets much more up close and personal than anyone would every hope to. We should warn you that some readers may find the following images disturbing.

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Appalling string of thefts targets religious offerings in tsunami-damaged town

Living in Japan, it’s easy to take safety and honesty for granted. This is, after all, the country where public trains make ideal spots for a nap.

That said, with over 150 million people in the country, you’re bound to have a few bad apples, such as the lowlifes who’ve decided there’s no better place for a crime spree than the town of Yamamoto, which was hit hard by the massive earthquake and tsunami of 2011.

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Previously unseen footage of March 11 tsunami appears online

More than two years after the powerful earthquake and resulting tsunami ravaged Northeast Japan, footage taken by those who were in some of the worst hit areas at the time is still appearing online. Currently receiving a lot of attention here in Japan is a video taken at a seaside location – which some believe to be either Kesennuma or Rikuzentakata, the home of the miracle pine memorial – showing the entire town disappear beneath the black water in a matter of minutes.

Although there are no scenes of abject peril, some readers may nevertheless find the following footage disturbing.

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Stowaway Fish Survives 5,000-Mile Journey from Japan to America

Testament to the strength and versatility of nature, a fish that became caught in the bait box of a small fishing boat swept away by the tsunami that struck the northeast coast of Japan in 2011 has been discovered alive and well on the coast of Washington State.

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US Tops Japan Earthquake Donor List, Neighboring South Korea Fails to Crack Top 20


The Japanese Red Cross Society recently released a summary of countries and territories that sent donations (as of the end of 2012) to the organization following the Great East Japan Earthquake. Topping the list were the United States and Taiwan, number one and two respectively, with donations in excess of 2.9 billion yen (approx. US$29 million) each. A total of 22.7 billion yen was received from 179 countries and territories, including from among the world’s poorest nations. Drawing the attention of some Netizens was the fact that neighboring South Korea failed to make the top 20.
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Retractable Tsunami Breaker Construction and First Test Underway off Coast of Wakayama

Late last year we reported on the development of a completely new kind of breakwater to prevent a tsunami from hitting the coast with its full might.  Unlike other breakwaters that would otherwise hinder sea transportation and the aesthetics of the ocean, these remain at the ocean floor until called upon.

If a tsunami warning is in effect then they can rise up in a matter of minutes and disrupt the coming wave. On 28 March the first nine-meter segment of this system was constructed and successfully tested. Here is some video of the test.

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School Kids from Tsunami-Struck Town Visit US to Convey Thanks and Strengthen Ties

Elementary and high school students from Miyagi Prefecture were given a special send off at Japan’s Narita Airport yesterday afternoon as they set off for the U.S. in order to convey messages of thanks for the efforts of those involved in relief operations following the 2011 earthquake and resulting tsunami in Northeast Japan.

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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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