Documentary : the Great East Japan Earthquake
Disaster Area Record of Recovery Kamaishi : Indomitable People
釜石 不屈の人々 [NHK]
｜Length : 34min. ｜Year : 2011 ｜
The city of Kamaishi is utterly devastated by the tsunami. Yet the head of an iron works factory is trying to rebuild his demolished factory and resume fixing ship engines to get the Kamaishi fishery business back on its feet as soon as possible. The owner of a ruined liquor shop is pinning his hopes on a temporary setup built in the park to reopen his business. An elderly couple have declined their son's invitation to live with him in the unharmed metropolitan area to try to revive their hometown sundries shop. The program follows the tough path to recovery for the people in Kamaishi's shopping street and factories over a period of nearly two months since the crew first met them at an evacuation center three days after the tsunami.
March 11, 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami – No Matter How Many Years Go By…Do Not Forget –
｜Length : 54min. ｜Year : 2011 ｜
Residents of the Sanriku coast had supposedly had the world's highest level of awareness regarding tsunamis. So what exactly happened on the coast of Iwate Prefecture that day, and how did the people react?
At Kamaishi, a city of Iwate Prefecture in the Tohoku region, a cameraman rushed to the television station's coastal branch office and recorded images of his hometown being swallowed up by the tsunami. Many people in Iwate Prefecture lost their lives to the giant wave. The wall of water even reached the farthest inland areas where the ocean was out of sight. Some died despite evacuating just as they had been instructed in drills.
Meanwhile, a number of districts sustained relatively small damage though hit by the tsunami head-on. These were places where forerunners who had suffered countless losses from the frequent tsunamis had learned from their experience and moved communities to higher ground. Damage was kept to a minimum in these districts, where people followed their ancestors'warnings carved in stone.
Tsunami Disaster Heartache and Hope Through the Viewfinder – 49 days of Life and Death –
｜Length : 24min. ｜Year : 2011 ｜
A local news cameraman shoots the huge tsunami engulfing Kesennuma, a city in Miyagi Prefecture and one of the major fishing ports of the Tohoku region. He seeks footing near the port with camera in hand and finger pressed to shutter as he backs his way up a flight of stairs to higher ground. The viewfinder, framed at the residents' eye level, fills with the terrifying sight of gushing black water. As the tsunami starts to recede, the cameraman hears calls for help from all over town. After a moment's hesitation, he sets his camera down and walks towards the voices.
The program follows the work of the news cameraman living in the fishing port devastated by the monstrous wave and, through his camera, presents the fury of the tsunami and the daily lives of the people in the afflicted area.
Town on the Brink : The Struggle for Recovery
クローズアップ東北 消えゆく町で 宮城県～石巻・雄勝町 [NHK]
｜Length : 25min. ｜Year : 2011 ｜
The city of Ishinomaki in northeastern Japan has sustained tremendous damage in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake that struck on March 11, 2011. Ogatsu, a town outside the city center, is at risk of disappearing from the map due to slow progress toward recovery. The town used to be the site of scallop and oyster farming but following the disaster, eighty percent of the population that once exceeded 4,000 left, as the residents were no longer able to support themselves. Results of a survey showed that more than half of residents who responded wish to return to Ogatsu. To realize this, construction of public facilities such as schools and job opportunities are crucial, particularly for young people, who would play an important role in recovery efforts. However, the local government has yet to propose a recovery plan for Ogatsu. This program follows residents of Ogatsu for three months from July 2011. Tetsuichi Yamashita, who used to run a variety store in a village, shared a temporary shelter with the few remaining people. They stuck together for a while despite the inconveniences, but one by one they left the shelter due to reasons such as losing a day labor job. Yamashita watched them go, saying he feels the tsunami has taken away their friendships too. With Yamashita as the last person to leave the shelter, another village was gone. Meanwhile, local fisherman Hisao Yamato has been devoting effort to resuming fishing with his only son. Yamato also set up an organization to help residents rebuild the town on their own. "If only one person had remained, we couldn't have done anything. Lots of people stayed and supported each other. That gave us the energy." says Yamato. This is the story of people struggling to regain a peaceful life in a town on the brink.
The “Miracle” of Kamaishi – The Children Who Survived the Tsunami
明日への証 「“釜石の奇跡”の真実」 ～大津波を生き残った子どもたち [IBC]
｜Length : 30min. ｜Year : 2011 ｜
The gigantic earthquake that rocked Japan on March 11, 2011, triggered a devastating tsunami, claiming many precious lives. However, in one area, roughly 600 people evacuated together and lived to tell the tale - the Unosumai District of Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture. All students and faculty who evacuated together from a middle school and an elementary school, both right near the ocean, were able to escape the tsunami's deadly clutches. Their story became known nationwide as the "Miracle of Kamaishi."
Though the word "Miracle" is meant to praise the survivors, students and faculty of the middle school feel that it makes their survival sound incidental, and does not adequately describe what happened.
"Our survival is not a miracle." What makes them say so? How, then, were they able to survive? Through their own testimonies, we trace their footsteps on that fateful day, to unveil the true nature of the "Miracle" of Kamaishi.