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

  • Friday, 20th May 2016
    In General Japan News,

    Long-lost fiery chilli making a resurgence in Gifu Prefecture

    A variety of chilli that is considered the spiciest in Japan was once thought lost, but after specimens were found, it is now gaining in popularity once more.

    The Tokuyama chilli pepper was believed to have been lost forever when a chance encounter between a farmer and a city official in Gifu Prefecture proved it was not.

    Makoto Sumi bit into a green chilli at a barbecue, not knowing exactly what he was getting himself into, but soon found that the excruciating sensation indicated it was no ordinary chilli.

    Since Sumi’s painful experience in 2012, officials in Motosu city have been using the chilli to help promote the area as a destination, reports The Asahi Shimbun.

    The history of the chilli’s usage and also the source of its name relates back to a special recipe that was popular in Tokuyama village.

    Here, the population used the chilli to make a dish known as jigoku udon or hell noodles, which warmed them up during the cold winters experienced throughout Gifu Prefecture.

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  • Thursday, 19th May 2016
    In General Japan News, General Japan News,

    Emperor and Empress visit Kumamoto in wake of quakes

    Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko have visited the earthquake-hit region of Kumamoto, despite cutting back on their duties due to old age.

    The imperial couple travelled to the area, where 10,000 people are still in shelters a month after two quakes killed dozens of people and caused major disruption to supply chains.

    Arriving at Kumamoto Airport in the early afternoon of Thursday (May 19th), the pair visited the villages of Minamiaso and Mashiki, which were among locations worse hit in the disasters, reports the Wall Street Journal.

    A spokesman for the Imperial Household Agency said the aim was to visit shelters and meet local residents whose lives have been upended by the quakes.

    Two earthquakes struck within 28 hours, starting on April 14th, with the first measuring 6.5 in magnitude and the second hitting 7.3.

    More than 4,500 buildings were destroyed, with many of them being people’s homes.
    Yoshihide Suga, chief cabinet secretary, said that the Japanese government will do all it can to help with the recovery efforts and return lives to normal.

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  • Wednesday, 18th May 2016
    In General Japan News, General Japan News, General Japan News,

    UNESCO supports heritage listing for Tokyo museum building

    An advisory panel from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has backed a bid to put the main building of a Tokyo museum on its heritage list. As well as the focal point of the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo, 16 others edifices are also included.

    They were designed by Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, who was better known as Le Corbusier, and was among the pioneers of modern architecture. The Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs announced the backing yesterday (May 17th), which could have a huge impact on the way this type of architecture is seen.

    Nothing will be finalised until UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee sits in July, but the recommendation by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) is a good sign for Japan. At present, the country has 20 heritage sites on the list, but none of them are in Tokyo. The 15 cultural and four natural sites so far recognised by UNESCO across the nation are outside of the capital.

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  • Wednesday, 18th May 2016
    In General Japan News, General Japan News, General Japan News, Japan Travel News,

    Woodblock prints provide inspiration for new Japanese passport design

    The foreign ministry in Japan has announced plans to issue passports in an entirely new design, but its inspiration goes back centuries.

    Pages within the documents will be based on wood prints made of Mount Fuji hundreds of years ago, reports the Business Standard.

    A total of 24 landscapes will be selected from Katsushika Hokusai’s 36 views of Mount Fuji series, NHK reported.

    The ukiyo-e or woodblock artist was prominent in the late 18th century to early 19th century and this particular series of Japan’s highest peak is his most famous.

    Each of the 36 prints depicts the mountain from a different angle and during various weather conditions to produce a diverse collection of viewpoints.

    Page designs based on the woodblock prints will act as the background for visas, entry and exit stamps collected as the holder travels between countries.

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