The triple disaster of 2011 still looms large in the collective memory of those who were in Japan at the time. How society remembers it, though, has been influenced by films, music and art. Patrick St. Michel takes this 10th anniversary as a moment to look back on the cultural impact 3/11 had on Japan, from annoying AC Japan ads to a wave of music with a political edge.
The disasters also generated dozens of films from nearly every conceivable angle. The wealth of material makes the task of assembling a “best 3/11 movies” list difficult, since worthy films will inevitably be left off, writes Mark Schilling. So consider Schilling’s eight recommendations not the final word on the matter, but rather a sampling that will hopefully lead to further investigation.
Moving on to books, author Yu Miri based her prize-winning “Tokyo Ueno Station” in part on memories of the 2011 disasters. In the wake of 3/11, Yu began making trips to Minamisoma in Fukushima Prefecture, hosting a local radio program there and eventually moving to the city. She spoke with some 600 local people on the show until the radio station closed in 2018.
But as Nicolas Gattig noted in his review of the English translation, Yu began meeting the homeless of Tokyo’s Ueno Park — many of whom were from Tohoku — years before 3/11, planting the seed of the book she would publish in 2017 to great critical acclaim.
In “When the Waves Came,” M.W. Larson provides a moving account of four experiences of the 3/11 disaster and its aftermath, writes Iain Maloney. Former Tohoku resident Larson returned to the region in summer 2011 to work as a volunteer in the cleanup, and the resulting book serves as “a vivid reminder of what was lost, what the people of Tohoku went through, and what they are still living with 10 years on.”