What Happened In Japan After The Tsunami?

Standing here in the midst of this
bustling modern street, it’s difficult to imagine that this town – the town of
Onagawa – was once on the front line of the tsunami that struck on March 2011
At 2:46 in the afternoon just 15 miles from where i’m standing now a magnitude
9 earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami which swept through the bay and
washed away the entire town. In the space of a few hours the tsunami with waves of
up to 15 metres high destroyed 70% of Onagawa’s buildings and claimed the
lives of 827 people, almost 10% of the town’s population. Looking at the images
of the aftermath you might easily wonder how the locals here could have possibly
hoped to recover from such a disaster and yet from the debris of the tsunami
Onagawa and many towns along the coastline have not only come on to
quickly recover but gone on to thrive and succeed with a stronger sense of
community and a renewed spirit of entrepreneurship. Seven years have passed
since the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan wreaked havoc upon the
Tohoku coastline, but the echoes of the disaster still live on through the
people whose lives were forever changed by it. I’ve come to the towns of Onagawa and
Kesennuma and the Tohoku coastline to hear the inspiring stories of those who
are breathing new life into the region. From an eccentric mayor who brought a
town together, to entrepreneurs and even Japan’s most famous actor who have
chosen to start new businesses in the region. To the owner of an award-winning
in who tragically lost her family but never stopped looking forward to the
future. Because they are people who have such a
positive mindset about the future I think that there’s going to be amazing
things that are going to be happening here going forward. Yosuke Kajiya owns his own workshop
called the “Glide Garage” designing handcrafted luxury guitars. Originally
from the distant island of Tanegashima at the Japanese mainlands southernmost
point Yosuke moved a thousand kilometers north to the town of Onagawa to start his new business. His innovative guitar known as
the “Questrel” is unique for not using any screws or glues, instead using the
same traditional Japanese carpentry techniques used to build shrines and temples, where wood is carefully carved and slotted together. So it doesn’t use any screws on the neck joint? No, no screws and no glues. Oh my god so on the back there’s no screws, no nothing. And you’re the only company in Japan – in the world – who’s doing this and using this system? Yes. It was desgined in collaboration with Ken Okuyama, one of Japan’s most celebrated industrial designers who previously masterminded
the Enzo Ferrari. So the guy who’s designed Ferraris is designing your guitar? Yes. You know they must be good then. Between the guitars famous designer and
the unique production method the Questrel has been selling for up to
$7,500 to enthusiastic buyers keen to get their hands on the exclusive
instrument. Glide garage is one of the new innovative companies that sprung up
in the heart of Onagawa town; rather than rebuilding the old town the people of
Onagawa invested their reconstruction budget,
starting from scratch and building a modern town center and aiming to turn it into
the hub for the local community and the air of change has attracted entrepreneurs
like Yosuke to relocate to a typically isolated fishing town. Next door to the Glide Garage is an equally
innovative business acting as a showroom for the unusual sight of the Danborghini. Produced from 500 pieces of corrugated cardboard and on a one-to-one
scale, the Damborghini is the brainchild of local business owner Hideki Konnou.
It’s also a clever play on words given that Danboru is the Japanese word
for cardboard. Hideki owns a corrugated cardboard company and in recent years
he’s branched out into producing toys and model replicas from a giant Gundam
robot to an impressive ATAT walker from Star Wars. I wanted to find out how he’d
got involved with the new towns development. With Lamborghini’s blessing the Damborghini soon became Onagawa’s unlikely mascot helping to reinvigorate
the town’s image and remarkably even leading to Hideki meeting the Emperor
himself when he paid a visit to the region. Hideki’s inspiration for the Damborghini came from his long-held dream of owning a supercar – a dream that
seemed far away when he and his family were forced to move to prefabricated
housing after their home was damaged by the tsunami. However seven years later and with business booming and he’s finally been
able to get his hands on the real thing. Slightly better than the cardboard
version. Becoming the mayor of a town that’s been
almost completely destroyed is no easy task and yet Yoshiaki sooner put himself forward for the challenge the months
after the tsunami in his home town of Onagawa. I met him overlooking the
construction site of the new waterfront which is still being terraformed and raised several meters as a preventative measure for future Tsunamis. Whilst Yoshiaki trying to attract new people to Onagawa in the nearby city of Ishinomaki there’s an entire industry attempting to attract younger
generations to their profession through some unusual entrepreneurial initiatives.
The profession of being a fisherman is becoming less and less popular to
younger generations and with that in mind the local fishermen have launched a
brand known as “Fisherman Japan” to showcase the more exciting and
adventurous aspects of the trade. Last year they launched a somewhat
unconventional service that went viral online called “Fisherman Call”. So the idea is if you’re a lazy student
or somebody who’s struggling to wake up in the morning you choose the time you
want to be woken up and select your fisherman and then the next morning the
fisherman who’s out there somewhere working in the Pacific Ocean will drop
you a line – yes pun intended – And wake you up and maybe even show
you what he’s caught. I mean it does sound a bit gimmicky and yet there’s
something quite nice about connecting two different people from different
backgrounds and professions through the difficult daily task of waking up in
the morning. My next stop is Kesennuma a port town further north which suffered
extensive damage and I’ve come to hear how Japan’s most internationally
recognisable actor Ken Watanabe came to open his own restaurant in the town in
the years after the tsunami. Unfortunately Ken Watanabe isn’t here
today he’s off around the world somewhere making a movie but every day
he sends a fax to the restaurant for customers to read so you can get some
sort of connection with him nonetheless and this is a book of all the messages
he sent recently and this is today’s one and it reads. It’s weird to think Ken Watanabe is out there somewhere in the world and he
sent that to welcome in the winter season. I asked the manager Megumi what
was Ken Watanabe’s motive for getting involved with Kesennuma and how the
K-port came to be. And of course the inevitable question; How often does the man himself visit the cafe? After the tsunami many people from
around Japan and internationally came to volunteer during the difficult years of
the region’s recovery. Like me Nisshant Anu came to Tohoku as an English teacher
on the Japan exchange teaching program After teaching he returned home to the
US but has since come back to Kesennuma to work for the local tourism department.
I wanted to find out what factors have led him to return. So the first apartment I lived in, in Kesennuma was actually right behind a place called the Yatai Mura which is the recovery village temporary housing establishment for
people who had lost their businesses in the tsunami. So there’s maybe like 15 or 20
different shops and restaurants. I’d have to walk through to get home. Walking through the Yatai Mura on my way home people would be like “Hey Nisshan! Haven’t seen you around in a while!” “Are you doing alright? Sit down, have a drink. I’ve got a fish for you man.” “Come eat this fish” and
then I’m like oh this is beautiful I’m home. If you spend time in Kesennuma
it’s a mindset you’ll find in abundance a friendly optimistic attitude that can
often feel the odds with the scale of the disaster and what the people have
been through. Ichiyo Kannou is the energetic owner of the Tsunakan minshuku a traditional Japanese bed and breakfast. The Tsunakan has a reputation that stretches far beyond Kesennuma and Tohoku on account of Ichiyo probably being the world’s friendliest person. In 2011 her entire home was destroyed by
the tsunami however her and her husband – a prominent
local fisherman – rebuilt it and elevated it several meters and reopened it as the
Tsunakan. It quickly became popular with famous faces including Ken Watanabe
often visiting and winning numerous awards along the way. Wow. Ken Watanabe he sat right here and then apparently
he fell asleep like this. Ichiyo became a pillar of the local community in the years following the tsunami. Just as Ichiyo and her family were putting
the disaster behind them tragedy struck again in 2017. One day Ichiyo’s husband, eldest daughter and son-in-law went out fishing
and their boat overturned all three of them lost their lives in the accident.
For several months Ichiyo contemplated on the future of her
business before deciding to reopen the Tsunakan and continue doing what she loved. When people think of the Tohoku coastline
often they still picture those same images we all saw on our screens in
March 2011 but today if you visit the region you’ll find that quite the
opposite, that people carry a strong sense of optimism for the future.
Their stoic attitude towards the worst imaginable circumstances is not only
inspiring but a testament to the strength of the human spirit.
Obviously a disaster is not a positive thing but I think the unique spirit of
the people here is that they’ve sort of taken the disaster and taken the positives
away from the disaster. The disaster happened and there’s nothing we can do
about that but where do we go from there.

100 thoughts on “What Happened In Japan After The Tsunami?

  1. Full Mee
    Unfortunately, some people think just what Japanese people are thinking about Japanese damaged the sea and other countries by nuclear, also I was asked it. Of course it’s bad, but I’m happy that there are people think about ‘people’. Thank you.

  2. A really good video. Was reading all the comments and couldn’t get myself to watch the rest because of how sad it’ll make me ?

  3. When disaster in 2011 was hit Japan i was been so sad and i was crying, every human suffering and tragedy hurts me deeply . I was been ready to volunteer too but i wasnt have aa money to travel even in nearby countries in europe and Japan was my ultimate dream, i love Japan with all my heart even i never been there. I love how Japan is unite when bad things happened and how they are dedicated in they work, how they care for nature and how they are disciplined and generally peaceful nation.

  4. As a victim of Hurricane Katrina, in which my family's town (a little fishing village) and the region in which I live was nearly completely destroyed, I appreciate you bringing these stories of recovery to the world. The impacts of Hurricane Katrina are still being felt in the region to this day, and I know how long and difficult the road is- but if you have a community that is ready and willing to rebuild, which this documentary shows is the case, anything is possible. Again, thank you Chris for doing this important work.

  5. Great job showing the true Japanese spirit. My wife and I will be traveling to visit these towns and places, and hopefully meet some of these amazing people.

  6. これ人工地震って言われてるけどどうなんだろう。地元が被災地だから、それ考えると凄いモヤモヤする。

  7. List of countries that survived and prospered after being decimated by the nuclear bomb:
    1. Japan

  8. such a wonderful production with a lvl of a TV documentary, and the japanese people, it is like their spirits are unbreakable

  9. 日本人としてすごく見たかった動画です。出てくる人の想いが溢れて涙が出ました。ありがとう?

  10. I am so sorry, but that tsunami, in all rhose fears and videos! Have shown me, that Japan! Is the most resilient and Strongest Country in the world these years! ♥ I raise my hat! And Bow deaply to All the Citizens of Japan! And all the fantastic Willpower they all show to this day!
    In my age of 62, I have seen much! But Japan has shown me ONE thing I have never seen!…

    Community Power! ♥ May all the Gods in the Heavens and in our Hearts forever Protect the Most Proud ♥Japan♥

  11. This came up in my feed recently and I've absolutely loved the vid. B-roll is amazing and you really did these people proud. Makes me want to visit.
    Best piece of you I've watched so far. Had to leave this comment it was so good.

  12. When you mentioned "stoic" I immediately wondered how Kimi Raikkonen would react if his house were destroyed

  13. Is there a ferry that will take you to the island of Kin Kazan? I think they have deer on that island also if so I guess I went there is that miyagi prefecture?

  14. 兄が病気で死にかけており、みんなに心配をかけないように振舞っていました。この動画を見て、特に民宿のおかみさんのシーンを観て、涙が出ました。

  15. Wow. I've been wallowing in self pity following the sudden death of my wife, and you show mw Ichiyo. What an inspirational woman she is.

  16. Congratulations on some excellent filmmaking – the b&b owner brought me to tears, what a fantastic human.

  17. How can one person lose and go trough this much and still have a spirit that can kill any darkness lurking in the shadows, emotional and inspiring!!

    Amazing video Chris! Thank you for this.

  18. so the lovely woman lost her husband, daughter and son in a day… and still smiles like there is no tomorrow… i was like fuck.. even i feel the pain of the lady…. yet she goes on, such strength

  19. I'm currently working on finishing my degree before going to live and work in Japan, For the longest time I've been contemplating exactly where. After watching this I strongly feel a desire to move into a community just like kesennuma. The sheer amount of love and strength makes it feel like home

  20. I cried when you talked about Ichiyo's story. This woman is the definition of being brave.

  21. The spirit of Japanese to be better is God given gift to the rest of the world to learn how to turn their life downside up

  22. I was wonderful to see the resilience and spirit of the people in this devastated town. Let's hope they keep looking forward to the future. Gob bless x

  23. My heart goes out to itchyio I hope some one good come beside her to encourage her we are not meant to be islands this was a good positive report it’s the first of your vids I’ve seen … ken watanabi is one of my favourite actors would love to see him play the lead roll ..if Severn samurai is made again …

  24. I like this video the best as it looks the most professional and tells an amazing story. The music is nice but not intrusive too.

  25. Yeah – Great – Rebuilding – Tell me what happen to the coastline, nuclear reactors and the governments efforts.. Not stories of inspirations of entrepreneurs.

  26. なんだよ、皮肉屋chrisがムカつくけど好きだったのに。


  27. Chris, I enjoy your videoes, I visited Japan in 2006 and 2008 and have some of my fondest memories, I will go back someday. So I enjoy your videos as they give me a view of Japan, also being a brit I enjoy your style of presentation, that said, this is not a vlog, this is an amazing documentary of a town that was front and centre of the news but we've not really seen many follow ups for, it shows the Japanese spirit, it shows their resiliance and why their culture is so unique and deserving of respect. Great video. Thanks for shooting it.

  28. After the Tsunami I went to Onagawa to assist….even at that time the survivors of the town were sad that thier town may simply disappear and forgotten and completely wiped off the map. However, what I was privilege to see and be a part of was how the surviving community pulled together to try to rebuild their town. Listening to all of there heroic stories and acts of dedicated people and public servants were heart felt.

    When I finally left, the people reminded me to not forget them, and thier stories. Years later I have not forgotten and I tell people of the heroic acts that was done in the tragedy so that, in a way, they will not be forgotten. That's was the best way I could help them from far away here in the US.

    Great to see they have not been forgotten or completely wiped off the map. I want to go back again and see how much it has changed since my time there.

  29. The Japanese are so innovative, brilliant and just plain awesome! I really admire them!

  30. I have commented before, Feb, 9th, 2020 I land in Tokyo with my partner, feb 14th is my B-day (weleave the 26th), We are going about, so will be in Sendai. I love your videaos and catching an ice cream, tea, sake, or a meal with you would be the best present ever (we'll pay) PLEASE???!!!

  31. Oh man I want to cry, what lovely people QuQ, I feel for them. I am envious of their sense of community though.

  32. This is amazing what you’re doing.. this is the best episode out of all YouTube episodes about japan that I’ve seen.. this is better quality than the bbc!,, Thanx man.

  33. wanted to learn about japan disaster, learning about guitars instead, how bout that =3

  34. Japan is an amazing country. It has survived both fire and water since WWII! The bombings and now tsunami. It shows the resilience of the people.

  35. I only they had rebuilt back – back to Village lifestyle – instead of the (defiant to nature) man-made "Powered by Money" junked up trash producing lifestyle – of which; who's floating, flinging, flying, crushing and drowning masses of debris – claimed so many lives.
    But I guess the "The Powered by Money Governments" Know what their doing to protect their "money generating populations" by teaching and educating in their schools = training everyone how to best nurture the natural "free-of-charge" provision systems – and properly preserve those provisions to be able to stay dry & float creating a soft safe raft in such an event.. Or perhaps the money powered governments believe it is
    better – just to rebuild it all – every just the same though "even more better technology enhanced" to serve in the money generation systems way of junked up lifestyle. To keep you fellow man more over provisioned with the crushing junk that a life of toiling for all the Earth junking poisoning and depleting THINGS – that the corporations keep producing for (The slaves to the money generation systems) to buy over and over again.

  36. So good to see that the people there find their positive view on life back, after such a disaster. I wish them all an amazing future.

  37. Oh lord I was thinking what a happy woman Ichiiyo was and figured husband was out fishing then we find out. Hard to not lose some tears down one's face hearing about her family tragedy and how her own inner strength keeps her going. A woman any man would be honored to have in his life. But ya gotta love her fortitude and faith in her life.

  38. This is a very professional piece of work. Awesome. Also, what wonderful people, especially the last lady. I see things as she does a lot of the time.xx

  39. This is literally one of the most inspirational things I've ever learned about aagghh like I literally dont even know what to do with myself right now JEEBUS

  40. Just finished this. It's an awesome documentary-like video. Goosebumps everywhere. Very inspiring. So much positivity. Thank you for this. ❤️?????

  41. Definitely the best and most inspiring video from this channel. Good work Chris-san. Gambaru!!

  42. Hi, I am new to this channel. That was incredibly well made Chris and it make me think seriously about visiting that part of Japan. I like many people were deeply saddened by the Tsunami but all we hear about afterwards was the Fukushima issues and radiation etc so never thought about visiting that area. Now I think it is important to go there and see how the communities are recovering.

  43. Honestly.. i feel bit afraid to open this video because i hate being sad or like the host happy lady said not to remember what sad moment happened in the past.
    Thank you Chris and team for made this video with full with great spirit, hope and many positive things we could learn from those local people.

  44. I am speechless, this video is so inspirational and beautiful. I was literally crying the whole time while watching. The whole ideology of the people in this video is incredible. Its mesmerizing to think that the city from complete wasteland turned into a city brimming with joy and life developing industrially and spiritually. When the mayor said that the thing that kept them going was the thought of building a better future for the younger generations i just broke down. Its so incredible how the locals didnt give up in the face of death but kept trying their best for a better tommorow and together overcame the tragedy and built a such incredible community. I just love Japanese people.
    Btw great production quality Chris, this video is a masterpiece <3

  45. F*** that ywam DTS that cast me out of their group unjustly before I would be able to do outreach to help those in Sendai area.

  46. この動画をあげてくれてありがとうございます。日本人としてとても嬉しいです。Thank you for sending me this video.I am very glad as a Japanese

  47. god the inn woman is such a wonderful person, I wish everyone in the world could be like her

  48. What a wonderful , uplifting video. Those words by Ichiyo Kanno at the end were awe inspiring in their sheer beauty.

  49. That hotel lady is def doing more then being friendly to make “the customers always come back” ?

  50. 漁師さんのモーニングコールって、女川だったのか、、、!!すごい!!!!!

  51. Thank you for posting this video! I once lived in a town near Ishinomaki (the town I lived was wiped out sadly). I have not been able to watch the video of the disaster but I loved watching this to see the Japanese rebuilding and just as beautiful as ever! I can’t wait to go back and show my daughter the beautiful place I once lived and tell her about all the people whom I knew that were lost. Seeing this and knowing the towns are coming to life again is great!

  52. What happened? I would imagine after a brief period of mourning the stoic and brave people of Japan got on with their lives very much like they always do after national tragedies like this.

  53. Amazing video and amazing people of Japan, they always amaze and inspire me, even if some of the top politicians can be a bunch of corrupt douchebags. But the spirit of the Japan's people throughout the ages is amazing, given the crazy amount of disaster (natural or otherwise) they have withstood.

  54. Wow!!! Don’t know how I found this video but stayed and watched and was surprised. (New subscriber)
    Such a professional and well made video!!. Instead of focusing on all the negative things that happened, it showed an insight into the perseverance and kinship of the people who went through such a difficult time. You should definitely make longer documentaries.

  55. 下手なテレビ番組より、はるかに面白いし印象に残る。

    What a beautiful documentary video work!

  56. In my mind, there is no doubt, our Asian cousins Japan and China, far out reach the rest of the nation's in ingenuity, creativity, imagination, engineering and so very artistic!

  57. I personally have never met a japanese person,i did not like.they are generally very warm,honest people.and have a good sense of humor too

  58. А чернобыль превратили в зону от чуждени я! И зону сброса мировых ядерных отходов! Заср ..и свою страну!

  59. ive watched your videos for month now and this is the first time ive seen this
    what is youtube doing

  60. We have so much to learn from the Japanese people. They dont give up in life. They always have a positive mindset. I really do admire them! They are by far my favorite culture. I even started learning by byself a little bit of Japanese. I am Mexican, I live in México. I speak Spanish, English, and básic Japanese. I wish to go go Japan one day and have Japanese friends. 🙂

  61. It was really difficult to watch this back in 2011. I was really happy to hear that we manufactured ALOT of prefabricated wooden housing for the Japanese

  62. Up there with your equally informative and interesting video/documentary on Fukushima. Excellent work yet again, probably because of the individual experiences and words of the people you featured.

  63. I know it is not easy to put this much hard work into a video production but if you aspire for fame and recognition this might be the way for you Chris. It made me shed a tear.

    a jackass and an SOB.

  64. i think i have also watched most if not.. all of your videos… i try to steer away from watching this.. because i enjoy so much watching your videos with ryotaro.. and natsuki.. there are some unique humor in your videos that keeps me watching… and yearning to visit japan someday with my wife and children… but this video presentation blew me away… the interview with the locals with subtitles are my favorite… hope you make more of this type of videos….. the only missing in this presentation is meeting Mr. Ken Watanabe himself… That would have been perfect.

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