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The Great Tohoku Earthquake of March 11, 2011

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

Ten years ago on March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck the Tohoku region of Japan. The ensuing tsunami and nuclear meltdown killed over 15,000 people and resulted in economic damages of around 250 billion US dollars. To this day, the events of the 2011 Great Tohoku Earthquake still remains as the country's biggest challenge since the Second World War.

Although Gonohe was spared from much of the destruction caused by the natural disasters, the port of Hachinohe, situated around 25 kilometres to the east, saw tsunami waves between 5 to 9 metres high. To this day, buildings damaged by the waves can still be seen standing in the port area. A notable landmark that survived the events was Kabushima shrine (蕪島神社 Kabushima Jinja). Established in 1269 by local fishermen in what is now the Hachinohe port area, it has since been a symbol of perseverance and strength for the local community. The building burned down however in November 2015. It has since been rebuilt and reopened to the public last year in March.

Kabushima shrine as seen in 2019.

Another area heavily affected by the tsunami is the coast of Tanesashi (種差海岸 Tanesashi Kaigan) located some 10 kilometres south of Kabushima. Tanesashi is famous for its beaches, campgrounds, and striking views of the ocean. Although it's now relatively free of damaged buildings and debris, reminders of the effects of the tsunami can still be seen throughout the area such as evacuation routes and height markers of the waves that struck ten years ago.


A view of the coast of Tanesashi in 2019.

In our day to day lives, we usually forget how certain events in the past shaped our present and indeed our future. It's important for us to look back at these major points in history and remind ourselves the lessons they have taught us. Namely, that nature can easily take back whatever it has given us.


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