The 2011 earthquake and tsunami has left deep grooves in Japan’s collective psyche. The disaster caused an increase in suicides, PTSD, and stress-related physical ailments like cardiovascular disease.
In Fukushima, the number of stress-related deaths – 1,656 – has topped deaths directly caused by the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown combined.
But as bad as they were, the 2011 earthquake and tsunami were just the latest chapter in a long, tragic narrative.
The Japanese archipelago sits at the nexus of four tectonic plates, subjecting the region to more than 1,500 seismic events each year, including at least two 5.0 magnitude or higher earthquakes.
As a result, Tokyo has been destroyed and rebuilt on average, from 1608 to 1945, once every five years.
“Being in Japan and part of Japanese psyche is—you don’t fuck with nature!” says Mariko Nagai, a poet and creative writing professor at Temple University in Tokyo.
“It’s a lot more powerful than we are, you can’t domesticate it,” she says. “You just have to face it, and if it comes, it comes.”
Well let’s rebuild again!