The Tohoku Earthquake Four Years Later

It’s now March 11th.  At 2:46 pm Japan time on March 11th, 2011, the fourth most powerful recorded earthquake struck northeastern Japan off the coast of Tohoku.  I was in Yokohama at the time, and never in my life have I felt such violent shaking of the earth.  It’s an experience I will never forget.

Looking back, I’m amazed that it’s been four years since the earthquake and tsunami.  15,889 people died, most from the tsunami.  The buildings held up to the 9.0 magnitude earthquake remarkably well.  It was the tsunami that was devastating.  Not only did it destroy or severely damage numerous villages, towns, and cities, it also crippled the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and caused a level 7 meltdown.  The surrounding area was evacuated and is still restricted.  Few are permitted to enter the vicinity of the power plant.  60% of the people who lost their homes are still living in temporary housing.  The power plant is still leaking radioactive water.  And I still live in the Tokyo area.  But no need to worry here, as we’re not affected by the radiation.  The most immediate area around the power plant has dangerous radiation levels, and the seafood from the area is not recommended for human consumption.

I would like to show you, or rather remind you, of the earthquake and tsunami.  First, you can read my account of the earthquake here.  You can also read about what an earthquake feels like.  Now for some videos.  First up is an eerie video of the skyscrapers in Tokyo swaying during the earthquake.

Next up is a video from a sushi restaurant in Sendai, which was the closest major city to the epicentre.

Back to my area, this is from the 70th floor restaurant in Yokohama’s Landmark Tower, which was at the time the tallest building in Japan.  I’ve been up to the 69th floor several times.  Let’s just say that even though we were nearly 400 km from the epicentre, it was an extremely violent earthquake.

And here is an incredible video of liquefaction happening in Chiba prefecture, just east of Tokyo.  He makes a comment that the movement of the ground made him feel like he was drunk.  That’s how it feels when you’re on the ground.  I was on the 4th floor of a building, so I felt much greater motion.

And this final video is of the tsunami itself as it struck Miyako in Iwate prefecture.  The incredible power of the tsunami can be seen and heard.  I saw cars driving on the street near the waterfront, and it’s quite likely some of the people in those cars died.  It should be noted that the tsunami reached 40 metres in some places.

After watching all of this, it brings back some of the powerful emotions I felt when watching it live on the internet.  I was at work and thankfully, we had power and internet access, so we could find out what was going on.  Even now, watching these videos, I could still feel the helplessness of four years ago.  This is something you never expect to go through.  Well, I sure didn’t expect it.  It’s something that changes your perspective on life.

I will never forget that day.

8 thoughts on “The Tohoku Earthquake Four Years Later”

    1. Oh no. It’s definitely not my first experience. I’ve been through many earthquakes. I’ve been in Japan for 10 years, and that earthquake was only 4 years ago.

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