The 2011 Tohoku Earthquake as Seen from J-List
Today marks seven years after the terrible events of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, or as it’s called in Japanese, the 東北大震災, the Great Tohoku Earthquake. All day today, people marked the memory of the disaster on television.
I remember the day well. It was a Friday and I was putting the finishing touches on our usual J-List pre-weekend site update when suddenly the earth shook more fiercely than it ever had. The same forces that give us those lovely onsen hot springs, unfortunately, make Japan the home of earthquakes, which usually aren’t a problem — Japan’s building standards are outstanding. But this earthquake took place deep off the coast of Sendai and sent a wall of water that would claim 15,894 lives and leave 2,546 officially missing.
The initial shaking was incredible, and it was all I could do to keep the large glass case of Star Wars figures in my office from falling on my head. Outside my window, a long concrete wall danced up and down unnaturally. The initial shaking stopped around 4 minutes later…but not really. After such a strong quake, there were basically mini aftershocks continuously. The shaking didn’t totally end until days later.
The disaster captured the attention of the world. Immediately a tradition of posting messages of support to Japan’s Pixiv artboard emerged, with artists both inside Japan and around the world.
Some beautiful art by Haruhi character designer Ito Noizi.
As sad as the loss of life in the coastal towns in northern Japan, the battle to get the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant under control was intense. This is an image encouraging the staff of Tepco to keep working hard, using their official mascot, Denko-chan.
The aftermath of the disaster was one of the great moments of Japan-American relations, as the U.S. military leaped into action, flying in emergency supplies to the affected regions of Japan. It was dubbed Operation Tomodachi, a totally corny-sounding name, but one which brought tears of gratitude to the eyes of the Japanese.
A famous picture of an itasha in Sendai.
Some lovely Vocaloid art encouraging the rebuilding of Tohoku.
We Were Incredibly Lucky
While J-List was shaken during the earthquake, we were incredibly lucky that everyone was safe and our building didn’t suffer much damage. Even more incredible was the resilience of the Japan Post. They showed up the following Monday to pick up packages, just like a normal day, and we didn’t miss a single day of shipping, all while we were still sweeping up broken glass.
The damage to Japanese’s infrastructure was more severe, however, and over the months of aftermath that followed our city performed scheduled rolling blackouts so everyone would have access to electricity. We managed to get through it, and we were happy to do our part to support Japan.