5 years on from the tsunami

On March 11th 2016, it was exactly five years since the earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan's northern coast. To mark this anniversary, this March at Inside Japan Tours is all about Tohoku: looking back on its troubles, celebrating its charms, and taking stock of how far the region has come in the past five years.

To read all about this beautiful region, including first-hand accounts of the disaster and recovery, visit our dedicated tsunami page:

The Japan Tsunami 5 Years On

Latest News

  • Wednesday, 28th September 2016
    In General Japan News,

    Japan takes queuing to a new level with self-driving chairs

    It’s generally considered that Brits are world-class at queuing, but the Japanese look set to take the title of top queuers.

    Whether it’s standing in line to get the new must-have gadget, queuing for concert tickets or a table in a new restaurant, the process can certainly be weary for the body.

    Now, Nissan, which is best known for manufacturing cars, has invented a solution to save people’s legs in the form of a self-driving chair.

    Once the person seated at the front of the line of chairs vacates their spot, the others automatically move up a space.

    The company showcased its new invention by releasing a video of the system, emulating a scene in a busy restaurant.

    Without the need to stand up, diners move along the line, thanks to the application of autonomous technology.

    Nissan has put techniques used in its self-driving cars, including cameras, into use to make the chairs function in this way.

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  • Tuesday, 27th September 2016
    In General Japan News, Japan Travel News,

    Snake causes bullet train emergency stop

    It sounds like the plot of a Samuel L Jackson film, but the discovery of a snake on a bullet train in Japan was no Hollywood plot for passengers on board.

    The service was travelling between Tokyo and Hiroshima when the reptile was found between some of the seats and action was taken immediately.

    After an emergency stop at Hamamatsu city, the 30-centimetre snake was captured by police and removed from the train.

    Those identifying the reptile said it was not poisonous and no injuries occurred, NHK reported, with speculation centring around it being a juvenile ratsnake.

    It must have been scary for passengers on the train when an announcement was made by staff asking if anyone had lost a snake.

    Despite the call, nobody came forward and an emergency stop was made to allow the authorities to deal with the problem.

    Haruhiko Tomikubo, a spokesperson for Japan Rail Central, told CNN: "We don't know how the snake got on the train, or if it was a wild or a pet snake."

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  • Monday, 26th September 2016
    In General Japan News, Japan Travel News, Japan Entertainment News,

    Animated film, Your Name, smashes records in Japan

    Your Name, a Japanese animated film has been smashing box office records since it was released last month (August).

    In the first 28 days of being in cinemas, the movie grossed 10 billion yen (£77 million), making it the ninth most successful film in Japanese history.

    This is almost unheard of for an animation and Your Name is the only movie of this genre not made by renowned director Hayao Miyazaki to rake in more than 10 billion yen.

    More than 7.74 million people have seen the film, which features two teenagers who swap bodies, intertwining their lives.

    It has pushed former graphic designer turned director Makoto Shinkai into the limelight and seen fans rush to visit the locations depicted in the movie.

    With the 75-year-old Miyazaki looking to retire due to his age, many are now suggesting that Shinkai would be his natural successor.


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  • Friday, 23rd September 2016
    In General Japan News, Japan Travel News, Japan Entertainment News, General Japan News,

    Magnitude 6.4 earthquake hits south-east of Tokyo

    An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.4 has been reported in Japan, with its epicentre being to the south-east of Tokyo.

    The tremors were felt at 9.14 on Friday morning (September 23rd), local time, with the US Geological Survey suggesting the quake began at a depth of ten kilometres.

    Originating in a spot 230 kilometres outside of the country’s capital, nine of Japan’s prefectures felt the effects.

    Japan’s weather agency said that slight changes to the sea level could have occurred as a result, but the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii has not issued notice of large waves.

    The quake began in the Japan Trench, which is found in the North Pacific Ocean, and marks the point where the Pacific, Eurasian and Philippine plates meet.

    Its proximity to the largest of Japan’s islands, Honshu, means there is a constant threat of such activity and there are a number of tremors felt every year.

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