Kaori Brand is a filmmaker who spent five years working here [Japan] at the United Nations University. One project that marked her especially was about the region deeply affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. In the following article she reflects on the experience of recording the recovery efforts of the fishing communities of Kesennuma and Omoe. The 31-minute documentary on Kesennuma can be watched at the end of this article, and a 12-minute video on Omoe can be watched below. This article was first published by Our World 2.0 on 14 January 2013 and republished March 2013 for the second anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster — in honor of Tohoku residents who continue to rebuild their lives and communities.
On 11 April, exactly one month after the earthquake, we headed to the town of Kesennuma in northeast Miyagi prefecture. The plan at the time was to mainly cover oyster farmer and author Shigeatsu Hatakeyama’s initiatives to protect the forests and the sea, as well as Kesennuma’s rebuilding.
When we visited Kesennuma in June, Abe’s hotel had also begun taking in evacuated residents. It was difficult to maintain privacy at shelters such as gymnasiums while temporary housing was being prepared and hotel rooms were able to provide accommodations for entire families. Many people were living there, so the contrast was distinct from the quiet of April. There were also many people involved with construction and media, so the hotel had been at full capacity for quite a while.