Seven Years On: Concerns Grow About Fading Disaster Memories (News)


Sendai, Miyagi Pref., March 7 (Jiji Press)—In coastal areas in the three northeastern Japan prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima, hit hard by a monster tsunami seven years ago, concerns are increasing about fading memories of the disaster as the number of tourists and other visitors is on the decline.

In particular, the number of visitors using guides who share stories about their disaster experiences and lessons from the catastrophe has substantially fallen from its peak.

Worrying about the sustainability of their activities, groups and individuals engaged in work to communicate disaster memories are stepping up calls for support from companies and administrative authorities.

"With the remnants of disaster-damaged facilities that visitors can see decreasing, this year may be a turning point for kataribe storytellers," said Kugiko Akira, 59, a kataribe in Rikuzentakata. The Iwate coastal city is known for the "miracle lone pine tree," which became a symbol of postdisaster reconstruction after surviving the tsunami triggered by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake on March 11, 2011.

Through Kugikoya, an organization he set up in the city in spring 2013, Kugiko has continued to tell visitors about the aftermath of the disaster and his own life as an evacuee at a shelter, using photos to illustrate his stories.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Great East Japan Earthquake Jiji Press