Earlier this month, the NHK travel series, "Tsurube Toasts Families," in which rakugo (traditional comic storyteller) performer Shofukutei Tsurube and a guest visit a town and talk to residents on an impromptu basis, went to some new communities in the area destroyed by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011.

These neighborhoods consist of either makeshift housing or brand new residential developments occupied by people who had to move because their homes were destroyed in the disaster. Though it wasn't the purpose of the show, many of the families Tsurube and that week's guest, comedian Kanpei Hazama, spent time with are still unsettled five years after the disaster, since they haven't decided where to rebuild or even if they will stay in the region.

According to government surveys, the population in the three prefectures — Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi — affected by the disaster has decreased by 6.7 percent since that fateful day. That's 92,000 people. Almost 19,000 either died in the disaster or remain missing. The rest have moved away. The only municipality whose population has increased is the city of Sendai, and many of these newcomers are people who moved there to do the reconstruction work, so it doesn't necessarily mean they are permanent residents.