“Mirai e no Kioku” – Google’s Tohoku project

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I could have easily said something yesterday – a day that many people don’t really want to remember.

It would be awfully cliche to read about the articles that commemorated the 4th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. There’s no shortage of them. And I could have easily reposted them without a second thought of what they meant to me.

Four years – what has been done since the disaster? How are the recovery efforts? How are Tohoku’s inhabitants picking up the pieces?

But I’m not going to talk about any of them here, because to a certain extent, we all know what the answers are. And I’m not going to talk about that either.

By sheer providence, I stumbled upon this website that Google created for people who remember the Tohoku they knew before, and the Tohoku in its present state.

The website, Mirai e no Kioku (未来への記憶), literally means “Memories for the Future”, and it is a map dedicated to the most affected areas in northeast Japan – from Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture to Rikuzentakata, and Taro in Iwate Prefecture.

Many of the pictures featured in these areas were taken from locals, and depict the changing landscapes over the past few years. I still remember Taro the last time I was there in May 2014 – and the pictures here are exactly the way I remember it, except cleaner.

Right now, Miraikioku has released a new page to create new images for its Google Maps. The efforts can be shown in a special YouTube video, which features videographer Hirofumi Masuda, and snippets of interviews with some of the residents and what they thought of updating images of the affected sites. While this video is almost 6 months old, I do feel refreshed to see Tohoku in a calmer, somewhat less chaotic state. If there is anything the Japanese are good at, it’s not revealing the chaos in their lives too much.

This, to me, is a much better way to remember the lives lost those four years ago, and honor those who are still living, working to rebuild their lives again.


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