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How Over 90,000 Photos Were Salvaged From the 2011 Japan Tsunami

Imaging and electronicS company Ricoh helped return 90,000 photos to their owners.

The 9.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan in 2011 caused a monstrous tsunami, the power of which the country had never before seen. The disaster completely devastated Japanese infrastructure and took almost 16,000 lives. To this day, families still continue to search for loved ones who went missing. When the dust cleared, victims of the earthquake went sifting through the rubble in search of salvageable belongings. But in a disaster zone, rescuable objects are prioritized by their utility, and sentimental items, like photos, seem a frivolous luxury when lives have been lost.

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A Year After the Quake, a Moment of Silence for Japan

At 2:46 p.m. in your time zone on Sunday, take a minute to reflect on the incredible challenge facing Japan.


The first foreshocks came on March 9, 2011. Two days later, the fifth-largest earthquake in modern history struck about 45 miles off the coast of Sendai, Japan, unleashing a cascading series of disasters: broken buildings and infrastructure, a massive tsunami, and eventual meltdowns at several nuclear reactors. Tens of thousands of people lost their lives. Hundreds of thousands were displaced. Entire villages were swept away.

The Japanese people will be recovering from this catastrophe for years to come. For those of us outside of Japan, however, it’s all too easy to forget. That’s why, to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami, GOOD will join the Japan Society of New York in observing a moment of silence led by Ambassador Shigeyuki Hiroki, Japan's consul general in New York, at 2:46 p.m. this Sunday, March 11. We invite you to join us, wherever you are. At 2:46 p.m. in your time zone, take a minute to reflect on the incredible challenge facing Japan. Then let the country's people know they still have your support on Twitter with the hashtag #oneyearlater.

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Schools Are Helping Devastated Japanese Communities Recover

Students say that getting back to something familiar—school—helps them deal with the stress of living in shelters and having lost loved ones.

Two months after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan, communities in the affected areas are still struggling to get back to normal. And while nothing will ever be exactly the same again, the process of getting schools up and running and kids back to studying continues to help the process and have a therapeutic effect on students.

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Ancient People Are Still Awesome: Centuries-Old Japanese Tsunami Warning Markers Saved Lives

In Aneyoshi, the wisdom of their ancestors saved the lives of the tiny village's inhabitants. Other towns ignored these warnings and weren't so lucky.


"High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants," reads the centuries-old stone tablet above. "Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point."

This marker, and several more like it, some more than 600 years old, "dot the coastline" of Japan, according to a report in The Canadian Press. Not all of them were quite as specific: Some acted more as general warnings, lasting reminders of a risk that might only recur every fourth or fifth generation.

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Feast Your Eyes: Radioactive Wasabi

Japanese authorities update the list of contaminated foods while the FDA tests produce at U.S. ports.


As contaminated water leaks into the ocean from the the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, and the soil near the plant tests positive for plutonium, Japanese authorities have updated the list of the nation's contaminated foods.

Milk, spinach, and other leafy greens grown in Miyagi and neighboring prefectures were already known to contain elevated levels of radioactive iodine-131 and cesium-137, but now 99 more products have tested positive for radioactive contamination—although most still at levels considered safe to eat for everyone but infants and pregnant women.

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Eating Inside the Eden of Chernobyl's Exclusion Zone

Is it safe to eat the fruits and berries growing on land contaminated 25 years ago by a nuclear disaster? Looking forward by looking back.

Japan is just now beginning to see the food chain trauma from nuclear radiation around the damaged Fukushima plant. While the radiation may disperse in the vast Pacific Ocean, rather than pooling on land and in food crops, it's worth revisiting the food growing around one the 20th century's worst nuclear disaster—the exclusion zone around Chernobyl.

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