The temporary housing built for the survivors of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami is usually depicted as being dark and cold, inhabited by sad people. But according to the NHK regional documentary, “Egao no Kasetsu Jutaku” (“Temporary Housing of Smiling Faces”; NHK-G, Mon., 12:40 a.m.), at least one community of refugees is keeping up its spirits.

Housing built in the city of Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, stands on the grounds of a junior high school. The community’s slogan is “Let’s leave our temporary houses in good humor.” The residents have devised activities to ensure that their lives in limbo don’t get them down. They participate in regular “health salons” (where laughing is the main activity), take turns carrying out regular patrols of the area and do group calisthenics every morning supervised by the youngest members of the community. The documentary talks to people still living in the housing as well as those who have moved on.

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