Tag Archives: tsunami

March 11, 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami

It’s been 6 years since the earthquake and a while since I’ve posted here. But I’ve started something new! I’m now running a science channel on YouTube, and my first feature science video is about megathrust earthquakes and the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. Check it out!

If you were in Japan at the time, what are some of your memories of the earthquake? Let me know in the comments section below.

Leave a comment

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It’s the third anniversary of the Great Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami of 2011.  Hard to believe it’s been that long.  I remember that day very well as if it were less than a year ago.  I’m going to go back in time and show you my posts after this event.

On the day of the earthquake, I posted this short post, letting people know I was fine.  The next day, I posted this quick update. On March 13th, I posted this long account of my day. If you read any of these posts, that’s the one to read.  At the time, I was still doing my first Picture of the Week series, and I posted a picture of the supermarket shelves.  On March 16th, there was an earthquake at Mt. Fuji.

After the earthquake, there was a lot of media attention, much of it about the nuclear meltdown in progress in Fukushima.  The situation continues there, and it hasn’t improved.  It turned out that both the government and the officials at the nuclear plant covered up the truth about what was really happening.  I’m quite disappointed in how the government handled things.  It’ll be a very long time until anyone can go into the affected area again.

I’d also like to draw your attention to a post I made on my writing blog, I Read Encyclopedias for Fun.  It’s all about what an earthquake feels like.

Comments are always welcome!


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Exploring Miyagi

We return this week to Tohoku in Exploring Japan with Miyagi Prefecture.

Miyagi Prefecture is on the Pacific coast of the northern Tohoku region of Honshu, and was one of the most severely damaged areas during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  It has a population of 2,337,513.  The capital and largest city is Sendai.  The 5 largest cities are:

  1. Sendai (1,045,986)
  2. Ishinomaki (164,294)
  3. Osaki (135,129)
  4. Tome (84,070)
  5. Kurihara (74,932)

Due to the casualties suffered in coastal cities, there is no current population information.  Some of these may be outdated.  Both Sendai and Ishinomaki were hit by the tsunami.


Shiroishi Castle in Shiroishi is a recent reconstruction.  It was rebuilt using traditional methods, so should be quite faithful to the original.  It doesn’t appear to be very big.

Aoba Castle in Sendai consists of ruins and some reconstructed buildings.  There is currently some reconstruction or restoration going on. It’s also known as Sendai Castle.


In professional baseball, Sendai is host to the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. In J-League soccer, Vegalta Sendai in Sendai city is in the top tier.

Things to see and do

Due to the tsunami in 2011, some of the following places may be unavailable due to reconstruction or lack of reconstruction.  However, most of the prefecture is business as usual, so I definitely recommend going there and supporting the local economy.  It’s very important to help them out.

Sendai is the largest city in the Tohoku region, so is the central hub for the area.  It’s a very green city that’s close to both the ocean and mountains. Osaki Hachiman Shrine is an important and attractive shrine in Sendai and holds the Donto-sai Festival.  Just outside the city is a large statue of Kannon. Rinnoji is a nice temple with a big garden. Zuihoden is the mausoleum of Date Masamune.  Miyagi Museum of Art is good for some modern art and a garden. Sendai Mediatheque has interesting architecture. SS 30 Observation Lounge is an observation deck on the 29th and 30th floors of an office building that’s free to the public. Sendai City Museum should be interesting. The Museum of the Forest of Depths of the Earth sounds quite interesting, featuring the stone age. Yagiyama Zoo is the local zoo. Benyland is a small amusement park that should be fun. You can take a tour at the Nikka Whisky Distillery and finish with free whisky. You can enjoy the Michinoku-Yosakoi Festival, as well.  Finally, Sendai hosts the largest Tanabata Festival in Japan during August. Sendai has some natural sites, too.  Akiu Great Falls is one of Japan’s top 3 waterfalls. There are also hot spring areas in Akiu and Sakunami.

Ishinomaki is a famous fishing city.  It hosts a few interesting things, but not a large amount.  There’s a full-sized replica of the Japanese galleon San Juan Bautista.  You can also visit the Ishinomori Manga Museum. There are some interesting islands, as well.  Tashirojima is known as Manga Island. Kinkasan is considered a very holy site, and it hosts a shrine, as well as many hiking trails.

Kesennuma is a city that was hit very hard by the tsunami.  It’s begun to recover, but there’s a lot of hard work ahead.  It has an attractive natural spot, though. Oreishii is a rock that attracts a lot of people.

Matsuhima is a town that was hit by the tsunami, but the main sights were not damaged. Matsushima Bay is one of Japan’s top 3 best views.  Zuiganji temple is a top Zen temple with a long history. Kanrantei Pavilion is a large teahouse with a great view of the coast. Fukuura Island is a good place to take a walk, and is accessible by a bridge. Otakamori is a great place to see the bay, and requires a 1 km walk up the hill.

Osaki has an area called the Naruko Hot Spring Villages.  Naruko Gorge is a great viewing spot in autumn. Taki no Yu is a traditional bathhouse that uses water from two separate springs and creates artificial waterfalls.

Zao Quasi-National Park is on the border of Miyagi and Yamagata.  It has the complex volcano Mount Zao, which is also host to a ski resort. This is the most volcanically active area in Tohoku.


Miyagi, especially Sendai, is famous for gyu-tan, or grilled slices of cow tongue.  You can also get shark fin soup in Kesennuma.

Have you been to Miyagi?  What did I miss?  Do you have any recommendations?


Filed under Japan, Miyagi

Exploring Iwate

This week in Exploring Japan, we look at Iwate Prefecture, one of the prefectures severely damaged by the 2011 tsunami.

Iwate is in the Tohoku region on the eastern side, facing the Pacific Ocean.  It’s one of the nearest prefectures to the 2011 Tohoku earthquake.  The population is 1,330,530.  Morioka is the capital city.  The 5 largest cities are:

  1. Morioka (300,740)
  2. Ichinoseki (128,571)
  3. Oshu (127,804)
  4. Hanamaki (102,455)
  5. Kitakami (93,142)

Iwate’s population has been dropping for many years, as people move away to the big cities. Many of the coastal cities and towns have been severely damaged or destroyed due to the tsunami. It’s safe to visit those areas now, but the cleanup and rebuilding continue. If you do visit the coastal regions, be sure to spend some money to help the local economy.


Morioka Castle in Morioka was one of those castles built without a main tower.  Instead, a turret was built.  However, all buildings were demolished during the Meiji Restoration, and nothing has been rebuilt.  However, the stone walls made of white granite remain and Iwate Park occupies the castle grounds.

Things to see and do

I never really knew much about Iwate, other than the fact that Morioka is the sister city of Victoria, BC, where I went to university.  But I understand that there’s some amazing skiing in Iwate.

Morioka has a great view of Mt. Iwate.  But what is there to do?  You could visit Morioka Zoo.  There are a couple of festivals that seem quite interesting.  The big one is Sansa Odori, which is the taiko drum festival in summer, and supposedly has 100,000 participants.  Chagu Chagu Umakko is a parade with around 100 horses that are decorated.  Iwate Museum of Art has some local art. Hoonji looks to be an interesting Zen Temple.

Hachimantai is a small city that is known for just one thing, All Season Resort APPI.

Hanamaki has some hot springs, and also the Kenji Miyazawa Museum.  There are some festivals, such as Hanamaki Matsuri, which has many synchronized dances, including the dance of the deer (Shishi Odori).

Hiraizumi is probably the biggest attraction in Iwate.  Several sites in this town became a World Heritage Site in 2011.  It rivaled Kyoto in size at one time.  Chusonji temple is famous for its Golden Hall.  Motsuji temple is known for its Pure Land Garden. Kanjizaio-in Ato was a garden, but is now more of a park.  Muryoko-in Ato used to be a temple, but only the pond remains. Yanaginogosho Iseki is the site of the former palace, though only the foundation and pond remain. The final World Heritage Site is Mt. Kinkeisan, where Buddhist sutras were once buried.  There are other attractions, as well.  Takkoku no Iwaya Bishamon-do is a cave temple that looks very interesting.

Ichinoseki has some interesting sights.  There are a couple of gorges that look worth seeing, including Genbikei and Geibikei.  Tsuriyama is a hill that is supposed to be beautiful when cherry trees are blooming.  Haishiwa Shrine is at the top of a hill with huge trees and very long staircase.  The Yuugendou caves also look quite interesting.

Iwaizumi, a small town, is famous for its caves.  Ryusendo is one of the largest limestone caves in Japan.  There’s also the Sugawatari Tankendo Cave and the Kumanohana Observatory.

Tono is a small city that’s famous for its folktales.  The Folk Villages are traditionally built and have artisans making traditional crafts. The largest is Tono Furusato Village.  There are a couple of museums, the Tono Municipal Museum and the Tono Castle Town Materials Museum.  Fukusenji temple has a five storey pagoda that’s apparently quite beautiful. Jokenji temple has Kappabuchi, a pond that is said to be the home of kappa, which are mythical water creatures.

I would list some other cities or towns, but those that have been omitted were damaged so severely that the sites likely don’t exist anymore.  If they do still exist or have been rebuilt or restarted, please leave a comment.


Wanko Soba is a popular dish that consists of a small portion of soba noodles and some condiments.  It’s also popular to eat it as all-you-can-eat.

Have you been to Iwate? Did I miss anything?  Leave your recommendations in the comments.


Filed under Iwate, Japan

Another big one? Well, no.

Today, there was a magnitude 7.3 earthquake off the coast of Tohoku in northern Japan.  It happened near the same spot as the 3/11 earthquake last year. This time, it wasn’t so big, but it was the biggest earthquake I’ve felt in quite some time.  It was still a big earthquake.

Here in Kanagawa, it was a 3 on the Japanese intensity scale, which basically means we felt a lot of shaking.  It was quite long, too.  Up in Tohoku, TV newscasters were urging people to evacuate the coast, remember 3/11.  There was a tsunami warning issued, and a 1 metre wave hit the coast.  It could have been worse.

To everyone around the world, and especially to my friends and family in Canada, USA and elsewhere, we’re fine.  There’s no damage.  Our evening is carrying on as usual.  So don’t worry!

Ever wonder what an earthquake feels like?  Check out this description on my other blog.


Filed under Daily Life, Japan


It has been one year since the Great Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.  At least 16,000 died in the tsunami.  It feels like a long time since the disaster, yet it also feels very fresh in my memory.  That day changed the lives of millions of people in Japan, hundreds of thousands displaced and homeless.  At 2:46 pm today, people all over Japan mourned the dead.  3/11 is a day I will never forget.  Too many people seem to have forgotten.  Not enough has been done for the victims and the homeless.  Too much emphasis has been put on the nuclear meltdown, pushing aside the actual victims, those who had died from the tsunami.

A year ago today, I experienced something only a small percentage of people in the world ever experience.  Those of you who have never experienced anything like this probably wouldn’t understand what it felt like.  Words fail me when I try to explain it.

For the victims of the tsunami, please do not forget.

A parade for the memory of 3/11.


Filed under Festivals & Events, Japan