Great East Japan Earthquake Aftermath on Film

311 Film ImageI remember the morning of the Great East Japan Earthquake quite vividly. I finished work early and watched the unfolding disaster online. It was terrifying and it was bewildering and it seemed so overwhelming. I also remember the (ani)blogging community coming together quick sharp to relay news and to set up charity appeals. The charity appeals are still needed as rebuilding is moving slowly and people are still displaced which is why I posted about a Japan Foundation film event on the anniversary earlier this week. It is strange to think that the disaster was two years ago because it seems closer and I suspect that the reason it still seems so close is because of the many films that have use it as subject matter.

One of the things I do on my blog is write up trailer posts for most of the Japanese films released in cinemas and for the films touring the festival circuit. Through doing this I have seen that Japanese filmmakers are intensely interested. Not a month goes by without two or three titles and with the recent anniversary the number of films has intensified. The range of filmmakers covers documentarians, directors who are better known for horror films and bleak dramas (bleakies as fellow film-blogger Alua calls them), veterans and directors making their debuts. It stands in complete contrast to other disasters and countries. How many films are there directly or indirectly about Hurricane Katrina (a handy wikipedia list)? There are probably more because The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans isn’t present in that list but still it just does not compare to the efforts that the Japanese filmmaking community has made to highlight document disaster and the continuing problems. Whatever the case, I present this list to you. I can’t claim that it’s exhaustive but it’s somewhere to start. It is shows how unique cinema can be and it is something we can use to remember the event and the impact it had on people’s lives and hopefully chart the recovery of the region.

Here are some of the films:


A Gentle Rain Falls for FukushimaA Gentle Rain Falls for Fukushima

Director: Atsushi Kokatsu, Writer: Atsushi Kokatsu, Uichiro Kitazato

Starring: Kosuke Toyohara, Chieko Matsubara, Jurina, Shono Hayama, Gitan Otsuru, Hitomi Sato

This was the directorial debut of Kokatsu. When preproduction of the film was finished in early 2011 and funding was secured from the Fukushima government the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami struck. After initially suspending the film the filmmakers continued with production and donated some of the profits to charity. The film is a mix of heartfelt drama and light comedy that comes with the role-swapping like finding out a girl younger than you used to be your mother in a past life. It centres around a diverse group of people who are all lonely and struggling in life. They meet in Fukushima where they discover that they were a family in a previous life. At first uneasy with each other, the more they talk the better they feel about their problems and their bond grows but their time together remains short as they must soon leave.


Himizu PosterHimizu

Director: Sion Sono, Writer: Sion Sono (script adaptation), Minoru Furuya (manga)

Starring: Shota Sometani, Fumi Nikaidō, Tetsu Watanabe, Denden, Jun Murakami, Makiko Watanabe, Ken Mitsuishi, Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Megumi Kagurazaka, Asuka Kurosawa, Taro Suwa,

Himizu is Sion Sono’s adaptation of Minoru Furuya’s manga of the same name and the only film on this list I have seen. I was in tears at the end. Sono takes a manga already full of anger and tough subject matter like child abuse and murder, and weaves in the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami to create a film which is ultimately a moving exploration of life, identity, redemption and the will to live. I’m quoting my review now. Here are more quotes “Sono hammers the references home with scenes of actors wandering around the disaster hit areas complete with the skeletal remains of buildings and mounds of rubble surrounding them. The sight of the destruction is a terrifying testament to the power of the disaster. The scenes are accompanied by the sound of Geiger counters and a menacing rumbling reminding us the events even more. It feels like a natural part of the film and added to the theme of enduring whatever life throws at you.” I would consider Himizu to be one of the best films I saw last year.

Junior high school kid Yuichi Sumida (Sometani) wants a quiet life but his mother (Watanabe) comes home with different men every night, and his drunken, hate-filled father (Mitsuishi) only pays him visits when he needs money. Yuichi carries on running the family boat rental business and lives surrounded by homeless people who are victims of the tsunami. Meanwhile at school he is ignoring class-mate Keiko Chazawa (Nikaidō) who has a massive crush on him. Things get tough when his mother abandons him and Kaneko (Denden), a Yakuza loan-shark, shows up looking for Yuichi’s father and ¥6 million. Pushed to breaking point by his situation Yuichi finds himself unable to control his anger and a series of events leads him to the brink of madness.

Women on the Edge Movie PosterWomen on the Edge                                         

Director: Masahiro Kobayashi, Writer: Masahiro Kobayashi

Starring: Miho Fujima, Yuko Nakamura, Makiko Watanabe

Masahiro Kobayashi, writer and director of grim films like Bashing is back with Women on the Edge which stars Miho Fujima (Ju-On: The GrudgeTajomaru), Yuko Nakamura (Blood and Bones), and Makiko Watanabe (Himizu, Love Exposure).

The three Onodera sisters return to the home of their deceased parents’ in Kesennuma, Miyagi, a place affected by the Tohoku Earthquake. The house has survived the earthquake and tsunami and the three are looking to claim an inheritance. Nobuko (Nakamura) moved to Tokyo and is a divorcee, Takako (Watanabe) moved to New York and works as a butoh dancer. Third sister Satomi (Fujima) stayed behind. There are deep resentments and over the course of the film they will come out.


Odayaka Film PosterOdayaka                                                                      

Director: Nobuteru Uchida, Writer: Nobuteru Uchida (Script),

Starring: Kiki Sugino, Yukiko Shinohara, Takeshi Yamamoto, Ami Watanabe, Ami Watanabe, Yu Koyanagi, Makiko Watanabe, Maho Yamada, Susumu Terajima, Maki Nishiyama, Kotaro Shiga, Kanji Furutachi, Yuko Kibiki, Yuya Matsumura,

This is a film which covers the March 11th earthquakes. This is another fiction film addressing the March 11th Earthquake and Tsunami following Women on the EdgeThe Ear Cleaner and The Land of Hope. It is written and directed by Nobuteru Uchida (Love Addiction).

Saeko (Sugino) and Yukako (Shinohara) are neighbours in a Tokyo apartment complex. Following the March 11th Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami both find their lives affected by newfound fears. Saeko is undergoing a divorce and fears her daughter may get radiation exposure. Yukako also fears the radiation and asks her husband to move. When Saeko saves Yukako from suicide, the two become close.

The Intermission Film PosterThe Intermission                 

Director: Naofumi Higuchi, Writer: Naofumi Higuchi, Minato Takehiko (Screenplay),

Starring: Kumiko Akiyoshi, Shota Sometani, Kyoko Kagawa, Akiko Koyama, Kumi Mizuno, Naoto Takenaka, Shiro Sano,

An indie film which deals indirectly with the effects of March 11th as we get the real life story of an old movie theatre in Ginza, Tokyo was closed in March. It stars Shota Sometani (Himizu), Kumiko Akiyoshi (Deep River), Kyoko Kagawa (Shall We Dance?) and Kumi Mizuno (Godzilla Final Wars).

Kumiko (Akiyoshi) is the manager of the Ginza Shinepatosu and she has a younger husband named Shota (Sometani). The movie theatre faces closure following the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011 due to safety fears. As the final day approaches, Kumiko’s anxieties over earthquakes and radiation grow.

Japan's Tragedy Film PosterJapan’s Tragedy                                 

Director: Masahiro Kobayashi, Writer: Masahiro Kobayashi

Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai, Shinobu Terajima, Kazuki Kitamura, Akemi Ohmori

Masahiro Kobayashi has another film which deals with March 11th earthquake and tsunami as well as disease, mourning and death in general. I guess you can say Japan’s Tragedy looks like the ultimate bleakie.

Fujio Murai (Nakadai) is unemployed and a widower. Although living with his son Yoshio (Ohmori) life seems bleak as he has been diagnosed with lung cancer and Yoshio’s wife and daughter have not been seen since the 2011 earthquake. Fujio decides to lock himself in his room and mummify himself. Trapped in the room, he thinks back over the course of his life.


Reunion Film PosterReunion                                                  

Director: Ryoichi Kimizuka, Writer: Ryoichi Kimizuka (Screenplay), Kota Ishii (Original Book)

Starring: Toshiyuki Nishida, Naoto Ogata, Ryo Katsuji, Jun Kunimura, Wakana Sakai, Koichi Sato, Shiro Sano, Ikki Sawamura, Mirai Shida,

This is based on Kota Ishii’s non-fiction book “Itai Shinai, Tsunami no Hate ni” which covers a story of morgue workers over the course of 10 days after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and Tsunami.

After the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, the morgue in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture is overwhelmed with the bodies of the dead. Retired funeral worker Tsuneo Aiba (Nishida) volunteers to help reunite the dead with their families.



Revival Film Poster
Revival Film Poster

蘇生  「Sosei」

Release Date: April 04th, 2015

Running Time: 90 mins.

Director: Tetsu Shiatori

Starring: Teruo Higa, Ichiro Iiyama, Shunsuke Funase, Izumi Masukawa, Kei Tanaka, Akira Matsushita, Ryuhei Watanabe, Yosuke Saito,


This is a documentary that explores pollution and radioactivity and their effect on the natural world and how microorganisms revive the environment that humanity wrecks. University professors give us information on how these things work. The following synopsis is taken from the English language story page on the website:

Documentary of the journey to Reviving the Mother Earth

Japanese film director Tetsu Shiratori’s fourth documentary film 「蘇生」(SOSEI – Revival) reveals the power of microorganisms who are the oldest living organisms known on earth.

The film takes a scientific journey to prove how beneficial microorganisms, especially Yeast, Lactic Bacteria and Photosynthetic Bacteria could help restore the environment and the whole ecosystem that have long been polluted by the human activities.

Radioactive contamination is not an exception.

Today, more than 120,000 residents are still taking shelter due to Fukushima nuclear accident in East Japan.

Not only that, mega-typhoons, floods, drought, heavy snowfalls… Natural disasters are increasing in numbers and their magnitudes are rising. Something is happening to the biosphere of the earth.

We have the responsibilities to the future of our children.

Will humans ever stop polluting the earth?

What are the necessary actions to take?

The film 「蘇生」 (Revival) casts a vital question that would determine the future path of humanity.


It’s Shaking

Director: Yasuomi Kawahara, Writer: Oka Daichi

Starring: Sachi Jinno, Tsutomu Honda

This is one of two short films that deal with the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami from 2011.

Akemi (Jinno) is living in Tokyo following her escape from Osaka but an ex-boyfriend named Masao (Honda) tracks her down and asks her to get marry him regardless of radiation.


Come Give

Director: Oka Daichi, Writer: Yasuomi Kawahara (Screenplay),

Starring: Masao Nakamura, Tadashi Kaizu,

This is the second short film dealing with the Great Eastern Earthquake of Japan. It follows a couple who have moved from Tokushima in Shikoku to Tokyo and the anxiety the move inspires in Izumi (Nakamura), the wife.

The Land of Hope Movie PosterThe Land of Hope                               

Director: Sion Sono, Writer: Sion Sono

Starring: Isao Natsuyagi, Naoko Otani, Jun Murakami, Megumi Kagurazaka, Yutaka Shimizu, Hikari Kajiwara, Denden, Mariko Tsutsui, Yusuke Iseya, Mitsuru Fukikoshi,

Sion Sono makes another appearance on this list with a film which is apparently inspired by a true story and deals with a family of farmers struggling to survive after radiation forces the break-up of their community.Here is my review of the film.

An old couple named Yasuhiko and Chieko (Natsuyagi and Otani) live on a farm near a peaceful village in Nagashima prefecture with their son Yoichi (Murakami) and his wife Izumi (Kagurazaka). When an earthquake strikes the nearby nuclear power plant explodes and the village’s residents are forced to evacuate since the village is in the twenty-kilometre evacuation radius. The family are soon faced with a tough decision: evacuate with the rest of the village or stay on the land that generations of their family have lived on. Yoichi and his wife decide to head to a nearby urban community while Yasuhiko and Chieko remain on the farm. Both couples are beset by doubts and problems.


A2-B-C   A2-B-C Film Poster

Japanese Title: A2-B-C

Romaji: A2-B-C

Running Time: 71 mins

Release Date: May 10th, 2014 (Japan)

Director: Ian Thomas Ash


This is a 3/11 documentary from American documentary filmmaker Ian Thomas Ash who has lived in Japan for more than a decade. He made this film which focusses on several families affected by the disaster. They live in Date city, 37 miles away from the Fukushima power plant, and the city was never evacuated so they now have to deal with living with radiation.


Fukushima: Record of Living Things                      Fukushima A Record of Living Things Episode One Exposure

福島 生きものの記録 シリーズ1 被曝「Fukushima Ikimononokiroku Shirīzu 1 Hibaku」

Running Time: 76 mins.

Release Date: November 16th, 2013

Director: Masanori Iwasaki

Writer: Masanori Iwasaki


This 3/11 documentary records the effects on the environment and ecology of wildlife in Fukushima after the accident at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. We hear the Geiger counter ticking in the we see trailer, the empty roads populated by herds of cattle and apes. Some strong images in here.



Fukushima A Record of Living Things Episode Two Disruption   Fukushima A Record of Living Things Episode Two Disruption

福島 生きもの の 記録 シリーズ2 異変 「Fukushima Ikimono no Kiroku Shirīzu 2 ihen」

Release Date: October 11th, 2014 (Japan)

Running Time: 85 mins.

Director: Masanori Iwasaki

Writer: Masanori Iwasaki (Screenplay),


Hats off to Japanese documentarians who are still reporting on the 3/11 disaster and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant meltdown because they are tracking the reach of the damage done to the ecosystem, the people and animals. This one is about animals such as macaques, cows and birds which were left in the danger zone. Some strange physical variations have been reported… Nothing exceptionally dangerous like in Fallout 3 but still, things are changing. It’s a sequel to a documentary released last year which picked up an award for Excellence at the Japan Film Awards.



Naked Cousin                        Naked Cousin Film Poster

裸 の いとこ 「Hadako no Itoko」

Running Time: 130 mins.

Release Date: November 16th, 2013

Director: Gitan Otsuru

Writer: Gitan Otsuru (Screenplay)

Starring: Kokone Sasaki, Takeyuki Yue, Yuki Kubota, Yuki Kazamatsuri, Mayuko, Kazuhiko Kanayama, Yuya Miyashita



The director of this mystery drama is Gitan Otsuru and according to IMDB he was in The Land of Hope as a cop! Not only that but he appears to be a novelist as well as a screenwriter. In his latest work he follows a debt-ridden man who goes on the run with a woman and everything he owns and ends up in the earthquake affected areas of Fukushima where his aunt resides. He works as a reconstruction volunteer, hiding from his painful reality, but when he meets his cousin he finds his desire to live again and swears to come back!


Tenei Village Fukushima        Tenei Village Fukushima Film Poster

天 に 栄える 村 「Ten ni Sakaeru Mura」

Running Time: 106 mins.

Release Date: November 16th, 2013

Director: Masaki Hara

Starring: Kimiko Yo (Narration)


Another documentary about the March 2011 nuclear disaster only this time the focus is on the trials and tribulations of Tenei village which is located around 70 kilometres away from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The dominant occupation for the 6000 people is farming and now the radiation has hit their farmland. Despite having no assistance from their government, the farmers continue to grow food.


Naoto Hitorikiri Alone in Fukushima   

Naoto Hitorikiri Alone in Fukushima Film Poster
Naoto Hitorikiri Alone in Fukushima Film Poster

ナオトひとりっきり Alone in Fukushima 「Naoto Alone in Fukushima」

Release Date: April 04th, 2015

Running Time: N/A

Director: Sakichi Sato

Writer: Mayu Nakamura

Starring: Naoto Matsuura


This is a documentary about a 55-year-old man named Naoto Matsumura (interesting article here) who is surviving in a town in the no man’s land surrounding the Fukushima nuclear reactors caring for abandoned animals. Witness their struggle to survive.


Since Then Film PosterSince Then                               

Director: Makoto Shinozaki, Writer: Makoto Shinozaki (Screenplay)

Starring: Aya Takeko, Yasuhiro Isobe, Mie Ohta

Since Then is described as a human drama. The subject matter is the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011 but the focus is on people living in Tokyo.


Sachiko (Takekō) lives in Tokyo. When the quake strikes and she sees the devastation in eastern Japan she is concerned about her lover Masashi (Isobe) who lived in an affected area. She tracks him down in a hospital but his family refuse her permission to see him.

Cold Bloom Film PosterCold Bloom 

Director: Atsushi Funahari, Starring: Asami Usuda, Takahiro Miura, Yurei Yanagi, Taro Suwa, You Takahashi

Atsushi Funahari was at the 2012 Berlin Film Festival with his documentary Nuclear Nation which looked at nuclear power after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. This drama is another one that deals with the disaster and it screened at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. It looks at the economic and emotional impact as felt by a group of workers at a factory. It stars a collection of new and old actors like Asami Usuda (The Woodsman & the Rain), Takahiro Miura (Ninja Kids!!!), Yurei Yanagi (Boiling PointRing) and Taro Suwa (Cold FishHimizu). The film will get a release in April 2013.

Ever since the tsunami struck the workers of a metal factory in the industrial town of Hitachi have been in something of a malaise, the only thing keeping them afloat being a skilled worker named Kenji (Takahashi) who has secured them a contract. Then he dies on the first day at the client’s site. His colleague Takumi (Miura) is responsible and the factory worker turn on him, taking sides with Kenji’s widow Shiori (Usuda) but her hatred turns to love.


Jellyfish Eyes                                         Jellyfish Eyes Film Poster

Director: Takashi Murakami

Writer: Takashi Murakami (Screenplay),

Starring: Takuto Sueoka, Himeka Asami, Masataka Kubota. Shota Sometani, Takumi Saito, Asuka Kurosawa, Kanji Tsuda, Mayu Tsuruta

Takashi Murakami is one of the biggest contemporary artists in the world with his “superflat” style which merges Japanese pop-culture (anime, J-pop) into a colourful representation of what Otaku adore about Japan. When he has exhibited his work in the UK he tends to get column inches in newspapers and some TV air time. He is bringing his unique vision to cinema screens in a film which mixes live-action and animation with magical creatures that look like Pokemon and some family drama. The film’s theme tune sounds awful but the trailer looks kind of good with a mix of comedy and angst and cute and a narrative that manages to weave in the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. According to a feature on the Japan Times website it is also a bit of an existential tale and pretty damn awesome.

9-year-old Masashi (Sueoka) lost his father on March 11th and moves to a new town with his mother. He starts at a new school and is the target of bullies. He also gains a friend in his class, Saki (Asami). When unpacking things at home, Masashi finds a strange creature like a jellyfish appears from one of the boxes. He names the creature Kurage Bo and takes him to school where he discovers that everyone in his class have similar “friends” which only children can see and control by remote control. These creatures seem cute and adorable but there is a dark corporate entity controlling them so they can harvest negative energy.


Little Voices from Fukushima    

Little Voices from Fukushima Film Poster
Little Voices from Fukushima Film Poster

小さき声のカノン 選択する人々 「Chisaki Koe no Kanon Sentaku Suru Hitobito」

Release Date: March 7th, 2015

Running Time: 119 mins.

Director: Hitomi Kamanaka


This one has themes about living with radiation and looks at life for people in Fukushima and Chernobyl with a particular focus on mothers and children who live in contaminated areas.



Case of Kyoko, Case of Shuichi                                     Case of Kyoko Film Poster

今日子 と 修一 の 場合 「Kyouko to Shuuichi no Baai」

Running Time: 134 mins.

Release Date: October 05th, 2013

Director: Eiji Okuda

Writer: Eiji Okuda (Screenplay)

Starring: Sakura Ando, Tasuko Emoto, Mitsuru Hirata, Soko Wada, Yoshiko Miyazaki, Ena Koshino, Takanori Takeyama


Kyoko (Sakura Ando) is an insurance agent who is involved in a relationship with her boss. The relationship brings shame to her family and she has to leave her hometown. Shuichi (Emoto) had to kill his drunken father to save his mother from a vicious attack but he is sent to prison. Upon his release, he begins to work at a small factory in Tokyo.

These two souls who had to leave their home-town and live in Tokyo find themselves connected when the earthquake and tsunami strike.



Iwaki Noto Fukushima Voice   Iwaki Note Film Image

Japanese Title:いわきノート FUKUSHIMA VOICE

Romaji: Iwaki Noto Fukushima Voice

Running Time: 86 mins

Release Date: May 10th, 2014 (Japan)

Director: Shun Arima, Mito Shino, Sasaki Kikaede


It has been quite a while since we have had a 3/11 film in a trailer post but here we have two in one. This is from multiple directors, all college students, who covered Iwaki City which lies in Fukushima Prefecture where Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant continues to be a major problem. They go across the city and meet people with different professions and places in society to discuss the future of the area.


Little Wing Children of MarchLittle Wing Karate Film Poster

Japanese Title: リトル ウィング 3 月の子供たち

Romaji: Ritoru Uingu 3 Gatsu no Kodomotachi

Release Date: July 20th, 2013

Running Time: 100 mins.

Director: Kenji Kurata

Writer: Kenji Kurata Seigo Inoue, Sasaki Akihito (Screenplay)

Starring: Nahana, Yuki Takashi, Ryunosuke Kawai, Shun Sugata, Susumu Terajima

Yamato and his mother Misaki have had to move to Tokyo from Fukushima due to the nuclear disaster. Yamato wants to protect his mother and desires to get stronger so he wants to learn karate but Misaki is set against it despite having learned karate in the past. Kiryu, a karate master tries to teach Yamato but this brings them into conflict with Misaki.


Sketch of Mujo Film PosterSketch of Mujo

Director: Omiya Koichi

Mujo means impermanence and it seems like a fitting title. This documentary was apparently the first to be filmed in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck the Tohoku region of Japan in March 2011 and was released in Japan three months after the disaster. The focus is on the devastation wrought on the people as well as the region with people relaying accounts and going through the horror of loss as they return to the region. It also looks at the endurance and resilience of these people and to the future with the promise of reconstruction.


Director: Kaoru Ikeya,

This documentary follows a woodcutter and carpenter named Naoshi whose house managed to withstand a lot of damage wrought by the tsunami. Unfortunately he lost his son. Naoshi is determined to rebuild his house and live the remaining days of his life there. Things are not so simple as his wife has misgivings, local authorities impose construction restrictions and his prostate cancer has only recently gone into remission. The festival page describes it as a “ tender portrait of a quietly stubborn man opens out into a complex study of the many ambivalences the reconstruction process brings with it: a tangled web of family duty, traditional customs, community spirit and municipal legislation.” It goes on theatrical release next week in Tokyo.

Become Ancestor Film PosterBecome Ancestors

Director: Kaoru Ikeya

77-year-old Naoshi Sato lives in Rikuzentakata in Iwate Prefecture. The film follows his struggle to recover from the March 11, 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. He lost his son and house but has since fought to build a new one. Things are not so simple as his wife has misgivings, local authorities impose construction restrictions and his prostate cancer has only recently gone into remission. It was another film that played at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. 

After the Tsunami Film PosterA Record of Ishinomaki’s Kadowaki Elementary School a Year After the Tsunami                                                                                    

Director: Kenji Aoike

This film focusses on Kadowaki Elementary school in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture which was hit by the disaster and hit hard as the school was devastated and lives lost. Over the course of a year we see how the school and its pupils and staff recover from the disaster with stories of renting a new school, reconstructing lives and the city as a whole. No trailer but here is the site for the film.

 Life After 3.11 Film PosterLife After 3.11                                           

Director: Hideo Nakata

We all know Hideo Nakata as the genius director that turned Koji Suzuki’s creepy supernatural chillers Ringu and Dark Water into bloody scary films. He has made a documentary that visits the areas affected by the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11th and it explores the reality of the victims of towns washed away. Hideo Nakata studied journalism at university which means he should have some grounding to get some insights into what is happening.


Fukushima Hula Girls Film PosterFukushima Hula Girls

Director: Masaki Kobayashi,

Fukushima Hula Girls is a documentary following the real-life hula girls from the Spa Resort Hawaiians in the Fukushima Prefecture. The resort suffered damage from the Tohoku earthquake of March 2011 and the film shows the Hula Girls’ efforts to revive their business through the resort’s national hula dance tour. It is narrated by ‘Hula Girls’ star Yu Aoi, and shows the girls’ determination and resilience in building a brighter future for Fukushima.

Nippon no Uso Hodo Shashinka Fukushima PosterJapan Lies: The Photojournalism of Kikujiro Fukushima, Age 90

Director: Saburo Hasegawa,

This documentary follows the work of photographer Kikujiro Fukushima, a man who served in the Japanese army and narrowly avoided the atomic bomb and with the end of the war became disillusioned with Japanese state and began documenting its darker aspects such as discrimination against people of Korean ancestry, violent protests against the Japan’s involvement with the Vietnam war and the Japan-U.S. security alliance, and his most recent work photographing the farming communities in Fukushima prefecture after the meltdown at the local plant following the March 11th Earthquake and Tsunami. Ren Osugi reads Extracts from Fukushima’s writings.


Friends After 311 Film PosterFriends After 3.11

Director: Shunji Iwai

Shunji Iwai (April Story) comes from Sendai, one of the areas affected by the March 11th disaster. His documentary (which played at last year’s Berlin International Film Festival) gathers together his friends who comment on the disaster and the meltdown at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. We meet young school-girl activists, former architects of nuclear power plants and actors/actresses who talk about the issues surrounding the disaster, nuclear safety and political failings in Japan. In the second half of the film Iwai travels to the harbour town of Sendai and sees the disaster for himself.

Nuclear Nation Film PosterNuclear Nation

Director: Atsushi Funahashi

Atsushi Funahashi was at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival. He attended last year’s event with this documentary dedicated to the town of Futaba, in Fukushima Prefecture which was devastated by the tsunami and then what remained of the town was coated with nuclear fallout from Fukushima Daiichi. 1,400 of Futaba’s population were housed in a suburb of Tokyo and we follow one of them, the mayor of Futaba, as he tries to keep the community together. Once supporter of nuclear energy he finds himself being a victim of it and having to negotiate ineffectual and uncaring officials and policies. We also see how the residents cope with returning to town for only a short period of time to check on their homes.


Okaasan, iikagen anata no kao wo wasurete shimaimashita

お母さん、いい加減あなたの顔は忘れてしまいました「Okaasan, iikagen anata no kao wo wasurete shimaimashita」   

Okaasan, iikagen anata no kao wo wasurete shimaimashita Film Poster
Okaasan, iikagen anata no kao wo wasurete shimaimashita Film Poster

Release Date: January 23rd, 2016

Running Time: 102 mins.

Director: Michiro Endo

Writer: N/A

Starring: AZUMI, Chie Endo, Michiro Endo, THE STALIN

Website   IMDB

Synopsis: The Stalin were a punk rock band formed in June 1980, by leader and vocalist Michiro Endo. It was disbanded in 1985 and Endo went on to make new bands but The Stalin remained very influential for many years. Endo turned sixty in 2011 and went on a tour. It was around the time that the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred. Michiro Endo is a native of Fukushima and a socialist activist according to Wikipedia and so he went back to his hometown and visited family to it, in the face of in Fukushima to survey the damage and was inspired to start the charity “PROJECT FUKUSHIMA!” This documentary chronicles his efforts.


Dogs Without Names

Inu ni namae wo tsukeru hi Film Poster
Inu ni namae wo tsukeru hi Film Poster

犬に名前をつける日Inu ni namae wo tsukeru hi

Release Date: October 31st, 2015

Running Time: 107 mins.

Director: Akane Yamada

Writer:  Akane Yamada (Screenplay)

Starring: Satomi Kobayashi, Takaya Kamikawa, Misato Aoyama, Saori Imamura, Satoshi Fujii,

Website  IMDB

Synopsis:  film maker struck by the grief she feels over the death of her beloved golden retriever. She decides to channel that grief into making a documentary about people who work at an animal protection centre and those who help rescue the animals left to fend for themselves after the Great East Japan Earthquake – in other words, those with no one to care for them. These animals are in a number of adoption centres and shelters around Japan, some of which are struggling to care for their new occupants after rescuing lost dogs and cats in the 20-kilometre ‘red zone’ around the Fukushima nuclear reactor. She meets and interviews many involved in such organisations and sees anew the power of our bonds with these animals and our responsibilities should we opt to care for them.

Akane Yamada’s moving docu-drama looks at animal adoption centres and shelters around Japan including those struggling to handle the countless lost dogs and cats in the 20-kilometre ‘red zone’ around the Fukushima nuclear reactor. She meets and interviews many involved in such organisations and sees anew the power of our bonds with these animals and our responsibilities should we opt to care for them.


Tokyo no Hi   

Tokyo no Hi Film Poster
Tokyo no Hi Film Poster

東京の日Tokyo no Hi

Release Date: October 31st, 2015

Running Time: 102 mins.

Director: Chihio Ikeda

Writer:  Chihiro Ikeda (Screenplay)

Starring: Kyoko Kagawa, Makiko Watanabe, Shuri, Saki Tanaka, Jundai Yamada, Chizuru Asano, Daisuke Sasaki,

Website   IMDB

Synopsis: Akari has made a very capricious decision to move to Tokyo. With no plan and no experience to help her she stuffs everything into her suitcase and wanders around until she reaches a café where a man named Yusuke works. He offers her the opportunity to stay at his place and so two lonely people being living together and warm to each other…


Fukushima: Ikimono no kiroku 3   

Fukushima Ikimono no kiroku 3 Film Poster
Fukushima Ikimono no kiroku 3 Film Poster

福島 生きものの記録 シリーズ3 拡散Fukushima: Ikimono no kiroku 3

Release Date: October 31st, 2015

Running Time: 91 mins.

Director: Masanori Iwasaki

Starring: Hiroaki Koide

Website   IMDB

Synopsis: Here’s an update on the animals in the Fukushima area courtesy of director Masanori Iwasaki’s series which explores the environmental impact of radiation from Fukushima Daiichi.



Daichi wo uketsugu   

Daichi wo uketsugu Film Poster
Daichi wo uketsugu Film Poster

大地を受け継ぐDaichi wo uketsugu

Release Date: February 20th, 2016

Running Time: 86 mins.

Director: Junichi Inoue

Writer: N/A

Starring: Kazuya Tarukawa, Mitsuyo Tarukawa


Synopsis: 11 students head to Kazuya Tarukawa’s farm which was gravely affected by the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. They learn about the personal tragedies of the farmers who work the land and the battle with Tokyo Electric Power Company.

Wasurenai Fukushima Film PosterFukushima Not Forgotten                     

Director: Hiroshi Shinomiya

Documentarian Hiroshi Shinomiya has previously shot films about the slums and garbage dumps of the Philippines (Sons of God/Basura) but now he turns his camera lens on Japan and documents the lives of people displaced from Fukushima Prefecture after the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011. It was filmed over one and a half years from April 2011 just after the accident and we see a variety of people including children trying to recover from loss, dairy farmers who lost their livestock and others resisting being forced to cull their livestock because of radiation fears and a Filipino woman who lost her husband in the disaster.

One Year On After 311 Movie PosterThe Survival of the People of Minami Sanriku-cho One Year After 3.11                   

Director: Norito Morioka

A 99 minute documentary filmed and broadcast in 2012 by an MBS crew in the town of Minamsanriku in Miyagi which aims to convey the feelings of the victims who have lost so much including husbands, daughters, wives and fellow office workers. People give face-to-face interviews and even reconstruct the events.

311 Movie Poster3.11                   

Director: Tatsuya Mori

This was released on March 03rd, 2012 but was originally shot two weeks after the disaster struck. It follows the director Tatsuya Mori and a journalist as they explore the issues surrounding the meltdown at the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Plant. They talk to local residents and hear their criticism.



Rubble and Radio                                      Rubble and Radio Film Poster 

Directors: Taro Umemura, Kazunari Tsukahara

This documentary is the debut of Taro Umemura and Kazunari Tsukahara. It takes place over a year in Minamisanriku Town in Miyagi Prfecture where 8,000 people are living in emergency evacuation accommodation. In the corner of a gymnasium shelter two people start a radio show aimed at delivering entertainment to those caught up in the disaster. Koji Yakusho, who had a house in Sendai in Miyagi prefecture, is narrating the film.


Return to Iitate, Village of Radiation           Return to Iitate Village Film Poster

Director: Doi Toshikuni

My Japanese isn’t all that great so my translations can be wrong as I suspect they are in this case because it sounds very melodramatic and the trailer is rather undramatic with a lot of talking head interviews and observation. This documentary comes from Doi Toshikuni who released one earlier this year about Burmese in Japan. This documentary records the travails of two families in Iitate village, Fukushima Prefecture, which suffers the consequences of the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Rain, snow and wind all carry radiation and both the Shiga and Hasegawa families are forced to leave. The Shiga family, dairy farmers by trade, find themselves in a new town and working in factories while the Hasegawa family split up.


Dogs and Cats and Humans Earthquake of Animals 2          Dogs and Cats and Humans Earthquake of Animals 2 Film Poster

Director: Daiyu Shishido

This documentary depicts the stories of cats and dogs and their owners who were all affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. We watch the fortunes of a family of stray cats, dog owners who lost their pets during the tsunami, the hardships of farmers and their livestock in the Fukushima area plus all of the stray domestic animals that are left roaming the streets and the volunteers who take care of them. It’s not all grim though because pets and owners are reunited.


No Man’s Land

Director: Toshifumi Fujiwara

When the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami struck on March 11, 2011 the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant fell into a catastrophic crisis. Within 24 hours, thousands of people in a 20km wide area were evacuated. Documentarian Toshifumi Fujiwara went into this zone to meet residents as they prepared for evacuation. They are on this film.

Seimei (inochi) no kotodzuke shibō-ritsu 2-bai shōgai no aru hito-tachi no 3. 11                                             311 Disabled People Documentary Case

生命(いのち)のことづけ 死亡率2倍 障害のある人たちの3.11 「Seimei (inochi) no kotodzuke shibō-ritsu 2-bai shōgai no aru hito-tachi no 3. 11」

Release Date: June 22nd, 2013

Running Time: 37 mins.

Director: Kentaro Hayase

Writer: Kentaro Hayase (Screenplay)

From what I can make out of the synopsis it seems to be a video made for people with a wide range of disabilities to prep them for natural disasters. Spurred on by the 3.11 disaster there are facts collected by local government and media organisations and interviews with disabled people plus there are multiple ways of understanding the info from subtitles, audio description and sign language.


Disabled People Who Failed to Escape the Great East Japan EarthquakeDisabled People Who Escaped te Tsunami Film Poster

逃げ遅れる人々 東日本大震災と障害者 「Nige okureru hitobito Higashinihon daishinsai to shōgaimono」

Release Date: June 22nd, 2013

Running Time: 74 mins.

Director: Motoharu Iida


We’ve had 3.11 documentaries about children, old people, and animals and now we get one about disabled people. This depicts what happened to people with disabilities, the problems they had evacuating, the problems being housed in temporary shelters and the stories of those who were left behind in the Fukushima area after the nuclear accident. It comes from Motoharu Iida who did the doc on animal survivors of 3.11.

Women of Fukushima

This is a video posted online where six Japanese women offer views on what “the state of the clean-up, the cover-ups and untruths since the nuclear accident in Fukushima, and how it has affected their lives, homes and families.” Find out more on the official website.


1000-Nen-go no mirai e 3. 11 Bokenshi-tachi no shōgen 1000 Years to the Future 3.11 Testimony of a Public Health Nurse Film Poster

60万回のトライ 「1000-Nen-go no mirai e 3. 11 Bokenshi-tachi no shōgen」

Release Date: March 15th, 2014

Running Time: 98 mins.

Director: Shinya Todori


My Japanese isn’t all that great but I’d translate the title as 1000 Years to the Future 3.11 Testimony of a Public Health Nurse which is a pretty self-explanatory one. During the week when the events of 3.11 were commemorated, this documentary re-examines the work and activities of public health nurses who were caught up in the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. The documentary will act as a record of what the nurses did and the places they visited like Ishinomaki, Miyagi.


The 3.11 Tsunami Mirai e no Kioku   

Tsunami 3.11 Mirai e no Kioku Film Poster
Tsunami 3.11 Mirai e no Kioku Film Poster

大津波 3.11 未来への記憶 「Tsunami 3.11 Mirai e no Kioku」

Release Date: March 21st, 2015

Running Time: 80 mins.

Director: Atsunori Kawamura

Writer: Atsunori Kawamura (Screenplay),


Just after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami struck, a special 3D camera was taken into the disaster area to record things in 3D. In the intervening years a lot of work has taken place to create a narrative about the aftereffects of the disaster, the people displaced by the disaster and their efforts to get back on their feet.



Gaia Symphony No 8   

Gaia Symphony No 8 Film Poster
Gaia Symphony No 8 Film Poster

地球交響曲 ガイアシンフォニー 第八番 「Gaia Shinfoni- Dai hachiban

Release Date: March 21st, 2015

Running Time: 115 mins.

Director: Jin Tatsumura

Writer: Jin Tatsumura (Screenplay),


Jin Tatsumura has been making lots of Gaia Symphony films according to IMDB and a Youtube video, TEDxTokyo gives a good overview of them. This is the eighth in the series and more wise people connected to the Earth and the environment give their opinions and show how they cope with nature. This one has elements about the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami as well as ancient tries in Nara Prefecture and threats to oyster agriculture. So we see Noh masks at a temple and violins made from the trees that were swamped by tsunami water and some strange tree art.


The Horses of Fukushima         Horse Festival Film Poster

祭の馬「Matsuri no Uma」

Running Time: 74 mins.

Release Date: December 14th, 2013

Director: Yoju Matsubayashi


Director Yoju Matsubayashi was behind the documentary 311 which was all about the Great East Japan Earthquake. He returns with a new work based on the story of a stallion due for retirement from the racing world that survived the disaster and its recovery from injuries sustained.



Negative: Nothing – Step by Step for JapanNegative Nothing Film Poster

ネガティブ:ナッシング 全てはその一歩から「Negatibu: Nasshingu Subete wa Sono Ichi-po Kara」

Running Time: 78 mins.

Release Date: November 30th, 2013

Director: Jan Knuesel, Stephan Knuesel

Writer: Jan Knuesel, Stephan Knuesel

Starring: Thomas Koehler, Andre Zimmermann, Hiroshi Mizohata, Kohei Isohata


Technically a Swiss film starring a Swiss man but it takes place in Japan and the man in question loves the country. The youtube page describes it thusly: March 11th marks a turning point in the life of Swiss travel agent Thomas Köhler. After the Tsunami and the nuclear disaster in Japan he loses all his customers, and eventually his job. Nevertheless, giving up is not an option. He decides to walk through Japan, 2900 kilometers from north to south, in order to show that not all of Japan is Fukushima. A trip of a lifetime starts through a country trying to cope with its biggest crisis since the end of World War II, but never losing hope for better days. The documentary film «negative: nothing» is a journey that changes the life of a travel agent forever and gives hope and strength to a nation. Even the longest journey starts with a single step



The House of the Rising Sun               The House of the Rising Sun Film Poster

朝日 の あたる 家 「Asahi no ataru Ie」

Release Date: September 28th, 2013

Running Time: 118 mins.

Director: Takafumi Ota

Writer: Takafumi Ota (Screenplay),

Starring: Shiro Namiki, Tomoko Saito, Izumi Hirasawa, Wakana Hashimoto, Issei Ishida, Taro Yamamoto, Masaki Kitahara, Yuichi Okamura,


Toshio Hirata (Namiki) and his wife Yoshie (Saito) live in Shizuoka Prefecture with their two daughters and parents. Eldest daughter Akane (Hirasawa) is on the verge of college and moving out of the house but her dreams and that of her family are dashed when a major earthquake strikes and the nuclear power plant suffers an accident. The family are evacuated to a shelter and Toshio loses his job. The stress gets to the rest of the family….


I’m Home                   I'm Home Film Poster

ただいま 「Tadaima」

Release Date: September 28th, 2013

Running Time: 26 mins.

Director: Daisuke Shimada

Writer: Daisuke Shimada (Screenplay),

Starring: Nana Komatsu, Shohei Uno

This short film comes from Daisuke Shimada who is a CM and music video director and has worked with groups like Radwimps and Sakanaction. This is another 3/11 film but this one depicts the homecoming of a girl who lost her parents two years after the disaster.

The trailer is on the Website


Until the Day Comes   Until the Day Comes Film Poster

救いたい 「Sukitai! Doctor’s Wish」

Release Date: November 22nd, 2014

Running Time: 110 mins.

Director: Seijiro Koyama

Writer: Takae Kawamura (Original Essay), Mootomo Furuta (Screenplay)

Starring: Kyoka Suzuki, Tomokazu Miura, Misaki Taiki, Tomoko Koyanagi,


After the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami strikes, Takako, an anesthesiologist at a Sendai hospital, and her husband Teiichi who runs a private clinic,  volunteer in the affected area to help others. This is based on the experiences of real life people.


Singer                           Singer Ryusuke Yamaguchi Film Image

Japanese: うたうひと

Romaji: Utau Hito

Running Time: N/A

Release Date: November 09th, 2013

Director: Ryusuke Yamaguchi, Kou Sakai

March 11th, 2011 will be remembered due to the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. Keeping the memory current are documentary and drama filmmakers like Ryusuke Yamaguchi and Kou Sakai who have made a trilogy of films. This documentary collects the interactions between Kazuko Ono who collects historical and sociological fragments like dialect, folklore and from the victims of the disaster. The directors journeys from Taro all the way down south visiting people affected by the disaster such as an old lady and her sister who remember other natural disasters. As the directors listens to the people they question why anyone would want to live in the region.

Voice of Waves Kesennuma

なみ の こえ 気仙沼 「Nami no Koe Kesennuma」

Running Time: 142 mins.

Release Date: November 09th, 2013

Director: Ryusuke Yamaguchi, Kou Sakai

This is another part of a trilogy of documentary films put together by Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Kou Sakai and it follows on from Sound of the Waves as they shoot a collection of sequences showing the tsunami damage in Miyagi prefecture and follow a group of people and their recovery efforts.

Voice of Waves Shinchi Town

なみ の こえ 新地町 「Nami no Koe Shinchi Machi」

Running Time: 103 mins.

Release Date: November 09th, 2013

Director: Ryusuke Yamaguchi, Kou Sakai

This is another part of a trilogy of documentary films put together by Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Kou Sakai and it follows on from Sound of the Waves Kesennuma as they shoot a collection of sequences showing the tsunami damage in Fukushima prefecture and follow a group of people and their recovery efforts. This is the most recent entry since its production year is marked as 2013.



Summer on the Frontline: A 15 year old boy’s story /Soman kokkyo 15 sai no natsu   

Soman kokkyo 15 sai no natsu Film Poster
Soman kokkyo 15 sai no natsu Film Poster

ソ満国境 15歳の夏 「Soman kokkyo 15 sai no natsu」

Release Date: August 01st, 2015

Running Time: 94 mins.

Director: Tetsuya Matsushima

Writer: Tetsuya Matsushima, Naoyuki Tomomatsu (Screenplay), Kazuo Tahara (Original Novel),

Starring: Ryuichiro Shibata, Min Tanaka, Satoshi Nikaido, Isao Natsuyagi, Miho Kanazawa, Ritsuko Tanaka,


Full synopsis from the film’s IMDB page:

Keisuke, 15-year-old junior-high school boy, has been forced to live as a refugee with his family in temporary housing apart from a hometown as a result of the Great East Japan Earthquake. He belongs to a broadcasting club of his junior-high and expected to spend his time over the summer with some fellows from the club but all of the equipment to make their work has been washed away by the tsunami. He decides to give up his filmmaking in this summer but one day a man who lives in a small village in Heilongjiang, China donates the equipment for filmmaking to Keisuke’s school and invites Keisuke, his clubmates and his teacher to shoot a film in China. It is there that the will learn about the Japanese boys’ story in China at the end of the Second Sino-Japanese war. It is a true story that 120 Japanese junior-high students were …



Hadenya ni ikiru hitobito   

Hadenya ni ikiru hitobito Film Poster
Hadenya ni ikiru hitobito Film Poster

波伝谷に生きる人びと 「Hadenya ni ikiru hitobito」 

Release Date: August 01st, 2015

Running Time: 134 mins.

Director: Kazuki Azuma


Hadenya was a vibrant closely-knit village with strong traditions dating back centuries. It was built on fishing and other industries that harnessed nature. Then 3/11 happened and the village was wiped out. This documentary captured the vibrant lives of the people before the disaster and the aftermath of the disaster. The New York Times has a stirring article about the villagers and the way they survived the ordeal and how their traditional communal ways gave them strength.



Fukushima: Is There A Way Out? 0.23μSv

Japanese: 福島の未来 0.23μSv

Romaji: Fukushima no mirai 0. 23 μSv

Running Time: 69 mins.

Release Date: February 01st, 2014

Director: Lee Hong-Gi


Just when you might have been concerned that the disaster at Fukushima might be forgotten… This is a Korean production about Japan’s nuclear disaster which is playing as a double-bill with No Man’s Land. In this documentary, Lee Hong-Gi follows some people displaced by the Fukushia Daiichi disaster as they visit Chernobyl and he looks at the state of Fukushima in 2013.




LOVE! LOVE! SING! Film Poster
LOVE! LOVE! SING! Film Poster

LIVE!LOVE!SING! 生きて愛して歌うこと 劇場版「LOVE! LOVE! SING! Ikite itoshite utau koto gekijouban

Release Date: January 23rd, 2016

Running Time: 100 mins.

Director: Tsuyoshi Inoue

Writer: Nobuyuki Isshiki (Screenplay)

Starring: Anna Ishii, Koki Maeda, Kaho Minami, Shido Nakamura, Rie Tomosaka, Kanji Tsuda, Momoka Kinoshita

Website    IMDB

Synopsis: The film involves former elementary school classmates from Fukushima who became separated by the March 11th Great East Japan Earthquake reuniting to go dig up a time capsule from their schoolyard. The cast is made up of actors and idols.


Tell the Prime Minister   

Tell the Prime Minister Film Poster
Tell the Prime Minister Film Poster

首相官邸の前でShusoukantei no Mae de

Release Date: September 05th, 2015

Running Time: 109 mins.

Director: Eiji Oguma,

Writer: N/A

Starring:  Naoto Kan, Risa Yoshida, Yukiko Kameya, Masanori Oda, Misao Rewolf, Lisa Yoshida,

Website IMDB

Synopsis: Ever since the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on March 11th, 2011, many people have been demonstrating in front of the prime minister’s office against nuclear power. 2015 sees nuclear power plants get restarted and Eiji Oguma, a lecturer at Keio University, records some of these protests.


Super Local Hero   

Super Local Hero Film Poster
Super Local Hero Film Poster

スーパーローカルヒーロー 「Su-pa- Ro-karu Hi-ro-」

Release Date: March 21st, 2015

Running Time: 91 mins.

Director: Toshinori Tanaka

Writer: Toshinori Tanaka (Writer),

Starring: Katsuhiko Nobue, EGO-WRAPPIN’, Kazumi Nikaido, Morerythm, Osaka Monaurail,


This is a 3.11 documentary and the film’s website has an English language version which is where I got the synopsis:

Nobue is owner of CD shop ‘Reikoudou’ in Onomichi. Delivering newspapers before dawn, and once the sun’s up moving about to do good for the people and society. He’s even too busy to open his shop, so friends offer to mind the shop for him.

His love for all forms of life, nature and music inspires many people. An episode realized by indie label musicians proved all this.

In January of 2009, Nobue had to have one of his toes amputated following and accident that occurred in a waste treatment facility. Nobue who until then, looked straight ahead (or perhaps he had no other choice) became totally discouraged and considered shutting down the shop. But then many musicians got together to cheer him up and organized a concert in Aoyma, Tokyo. All the profits were donated to Nobue.

It was a way for the musicians to show their gratitude to Nobue, who until then had organized so many concerts for them, even paying out of his own pocket when there wasn’t enough profit, as well as setting entrance fees so that families could afford to come with their children.

Nobue’s life changed again after March 11 2011. He started helping those who moved to Onomichi from areas nearer to Fukushima, organized study sessions, visited newspapers, assisted newcomers to settle down, and planned holidays for children during the school vacation.

When asked how he was going to manage financially, he replies, “I will raise funds.” And to the further question of if there isn’t enough funds, he answers promptly “I will pay from my pocket, or borrow from someone”. He also argues “I’ll think about money later. If we worry too much about money, we won’t be able to save any children”. Through the interviews of musicians and friends in Onomichi, we gradually get to capture the image of this super local hero!



Au revoir l’ete          Au revoir lete Film poster

ほとり の 朔子 「Hotori no Sakuko」

Running Time: 125 mins.

Release Date: January 18th, 2014

Director: Koji Fukada

Writer: Koji Fukada (Screenplay)

Starring: Fumi Nikaido, Mayu Tsuruta, Kanji Furutachi, Taiga, Ena Koshino, Makiko Watanabe, Kiki Sugino


Fumi Nikaido takes the lead as a girl named Noriko who is preparing to take her university entrance exam and on the advice of her aunt Kie (Tsuruta) stays over at a relative’s house where she meets her aunt’s childhood friend Usagikichi (Furutachi), his daughter Tatsuko (Sugino) and his nephew Takashi (Taiga) who is from Fukushima. 


Homeland   Homeland Film Poster

家路 「Ieji」

Running Time: 118 mins.

Release Date: March 01st, 2014 (Japan)

Director: Nao Kubota

Writer: Kenji Aoki (Screenplay),

Starring: Kenichi Matsuyama, Yuko Tanaka, Sakura Ando, Takashi Yamanaka, Seiyo Uchino


This drama was at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival and is all about the fallout from the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown. It stars some impressive names like Kenichi Matsuyama and Sakura Ando but it has earned a pretty mixed review from Variety – great acting but visually bland and ducks the dangers of radiation.

Jiro (Matsuyama) returns to his former farming village which has been evacuated due to the fact that it lies near Fukushima Daichi and is badly contaminated. Jiro begins cultivating the land and teams up with an old school friend to plant rice despite the spreading radioactivity and its effects on their health. Meanwhile, Jiro’s half-brother has left the town with his wife and child and their mother. When their mother hears that Jiro has returned to their land she wants to go home and see him again.


Yuigon Genpatsu Sae Nakereba   Yuigon genpatsu sae nakereba Film Poste

遺言 原発さえなければ 「Yuigon Genpatsu Sae Nakereba」

Running Time: 225 mins.

Release Date: March 08th, 2014 (Japan)

Director: Naomi Toyoda, Masaya Noda



This documentary comes with a running time of 3 hours and 45 minutes and that’s because it was edited down from footage recorded over 800 days following the Great East Japan Earthquake. The directors are photojournalists by trade and they rushed to cover the developing disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and what happened to the resident who were nearby. The English part of the site gives more details.



Shironagasu kujira ni sasageru ballet / A Dance for Blue Whales  

Shironagasu kujira ni sasageru ballet Film Poster
Shironagasu kujira ni sasageru ballet Film Poster

シロナガスクジラに捧げるバレエ「Shironagasu kujira ni sasageru barei

Release Date: September 19th, 2015

Running Time: 72 mins.

Director: Katsumi Sakaguchi

Writer: Katsumi Sakaguchi (Screenplay),

Starring:  Kana Matsushita, Mayumi Niikura, Hiori Ohkubo, Shiori Shiraki, Haruka Tachibana, Sunao Yamashita

Website IMDB

Katsumi Sakaguchi directed the powerful documentary Walking with My Mother (2014) which was a moving portrait of the director’s elderly mother dealing with the sudden life-shattering loss of her daughter and her husband which precipitated a sudden deep despair. His latest film is also about loss but as see through the eyes of two little girls, sisters searching for a new home and family after the 3/11 Earthquake and Tsunami.

Synopsis from the English language part of the film’s website: This film depicts the lives of an 8-year-old and 11-year-old sister, who have lost their beloved family to the Great Disaster and Tsunami. As they return to where their home used to stand, now a village lost in sand, they retrace their memories in search for their family, and work together to build their “new home,” in silence. This film expresses new hope and repose to the 20,000 lost and missing souls from the Great East Earthquake that hit Japan three years ago.

Nuclear Japan   

Nihon to genpatsu 4-nen-go film poster
Nihon to genpatsu 4-nen-go film poster

日本と原発 4年後「Nihon to genpatsu 4-nen-go

Release Date: May 01st, 2015 (Japan)

Running Time: 138 mins.

Director: Hiroyuki Kawai

Writer: N/A

Starring: Hiroyuki Kawai, Eiko Kanno, Yuichi Kaito, Tetsuya Iida, Noriko Kimoto,


Synopsis from the film’s English language website: NUCLEAR JAPAN is a documentary film directed by a 70-year-old lawyer with remarkable record of winning very high-profile cases who elucidates the controversial issue of nuclear power industry in Japan.

On March 11th, 2011, a massive earthquake hit East Japan, which caused a catastrophic accident in Tokyo Electric Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant. Radioactive materials were released from its four nuclear reactors, and they have contaminated the people’s land as well as ocean. Today, the effort to clean up the radioactive materials is still ongoing, only too little effect.

There was one lawyer who had been actively voicing the absurdity and danger of Japanese nuclear power – Hiroyuki Kawai. Kawai has been fighting in many legal battles to halt nuclear power plants in Japan for over 20 years. Ever since the crisis at Fukushima No.1 power plant, his fight has been fuelled by even more drive and dedication.

Then, Kawai had a thought. What if he makes a movie about this issue? If he wants the public to understand the complicated issues of nuclear power, literature has its limits. Also, all the coverage by Japanese media has been biased. Only by providing the visual and giving the objective view, he can communicate the true absurdity and inhumanity of the nuclear power in Japan.

With the help of another lawyer Yuichi Kaido, Kawai’s old ally who also has been fighting in nuclear power plant lawsuits, Kawai completed this documentary film, NUCLEAR JAPAN.

The film not only features the interviews of many experts, a number of facts and evidences, but it also brings to light the immense pain of the people have been suffering from the nuclear crisis. NUCLEAR JAPAN is now being presented as evidence in many lawsuits to halt nuclear power plants all over Japan.


Fukushima (Town of Love and Hope)   Fukushima (Town of Love and Hope) Film Poster

あいときぼうのまち 「Ai to Kibou no Machi」

Running Time: 126 mins

Release Date: June 21st, 2014 (Japan)

Director: Hiroshi Kanno

Writer: Junichi Inoue (Screenplay),

Starring: Yoko Natsuki, Hiroshi Katsuno, Kohei Kuroda, Yoko Oike, Miku Chiba, Nao Seta, Yusuke Sugiyama


In 1945, a student named Hideo has been mobilized by the government to work at a uranium mine in Ishikawa, Fukushima Prefecture during World War II.

In 1966, Hideo lives in Futaba in Fukushima Prefecture and opposes the building of a nuclear power plant. His position alienated him from everybody else including his daughter Aiko who was in love with Kenji, a supporter of the nuclear power plant.

In 2011, Kenji and his son both work for the Tokyo Electronic company, but his son dies of cancer. Kenji meets Aiko again.

On March 11, 2011 the Great East Japan Earthquake occurs.


Futaba kara Toukuhanarete Dainibu  /  Nuclear Nation IIFar Away from Futaba The Second Part Film Poster

フタバから遠く離れて 第二部 「Futaba kara Toukuhanarete Dainibu」

Release Date: November 15th, 2014 (Japan)

Running Time: 114 mins

Director: Atsushi Funahashi



With certain areas in Japan planning to restart reactors and the government continuing to gag the press, it seems that documentary filmmakers are one of the best sources of information about what is going on in the 3/11 disaster zones and the people displaced as a result of the tsunami and reactor meltdowns.

This is a sequel to a documentary about the residents of Futaba town in Fukushima prefecture following their story a few years after the first one. Here’s a synopsis for the original film from the site:

A documentary about the exile of Futaba’s residents, the region housing the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Since the 1960s, Futaba had been promised prosperity with tax breaks and major subsidies to compensate for the presence of the power plant. The town’s people have now lost their homeland. Through their agonies and frustrations, the film questions the real cost of capitalism and nuclear energy.

The day after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake on March 11, 2011, Futaba locals heard the hydrogen explosion at Reactor Number 1 and were showered with nuclear fallout. In response, the Japanese government designated the whole town as an “exclusion zone” and 1,400 of the town’s residents fled to an abandoned high school 250 kilometers away. The entire community, including the Town Hall office, was moved into the four-story building, making the residents nuclear refugees.

The film portrays the evacuees as the nuclear disaster situation changes over time. One of them is Ichiro Nakai, a farmer who lost his wife, his home, and his rice fields in the massive tsunami. Doing his best to cope with the monotony of life at the evacuation center, he struggles to wipe away the haunting memories and start a new life with his son. The two finally get an official permit to enter the exclusion zone to visit their hometown. There, they see that their worst fears have become reality…

The other is Katsutaka Idogawa, Futaba’s mayor, a former active supporter of the government’s nuclear policy, who was lobbying to build two additional reactors. After realizing his constituents were exposed to significant amounts of radiation and that the situation at the TEPCO plant is still unstable, his beliefs begin to change.



Tanemaki usagi Fukushima ni mukiau seishun   

Tanemaki usagi Fukushima ni mukiau seishun Film Poster
Tanemaki usagi Fukushima ni mukiau seishun Film Poster

種まきうさぎ フクシマに向き合う青春Tanemaki usagi Fukushima ni mukiau seishun

Release Date: October 24th, 2015

Running Time: 87 mins.

Director: Yasuyuki Mori

Writer:  N/A

Starring: N/A


Synopsis: The Great East Japan Earthquake has been covered from numerous angles in documentaries from animals to surveying the wreckage, farmers removed from their land to the rescue operations and reuniting people with their saviours to anti-nuclear protestors. Here’s another doc but it focusses on teaching high schoolers from Fukushima about nuclear energy from the 3/11 disaster to Hydrogen bombs and the Cold War and the way people are opposed to nuclear energy around the world.


Nihon zero nen: fukushima kara no kaze dai 2 sho   

Nihon zero nen fukushima kara no kaze dai 2 sho Film Poster
Nihon zero nen fukushima kara no kaze dai 2 sho Film Poster

日本零年 フクシマからの風 第二章Nihon zero nen: fukushima kara no kaze dai 2 sho

Release Date: October 24th, 2015

Running Time: 91 mins.

Director: Tetsu Kato

Writer:  Tetsu Kato (Screenplay),

Starring: Hinako Saeki, Mitsunori Furusawa, Otowa Kidoguchi, Miori Kiuchi, Rinne Konno, Sayuri Sakaguchi, Atsumi Sakurai,

Website   IMDB

Synopsis: The protagonist of the film (called “shujinko S” “main character S” in English) lives in Tokyo and when the meltdown in Fukushima occurs his wife Sakiko (Saeki) disappears with their child. It turns out that Fukushima is where Sakiko is from so the main character searches for her and finds the place is a disaster zone.



Watashi no Owaranai Tabi   

My Journey Does Not End Film Poster
My Journey Does Not End Film Poster

わたしの、終わらない旅「Watashi no Owaranai Tabi」

Release Date: March 7th, 2015

Running Time: 78 mins.

Director: Masako Sakata


A few days before March 11th that day back in 2011 when an earthquake and tsunami hit the Tohoku region and caused a nuclear meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi, there’s this documentary about the anti-nuclear movement that the director’s mother was a part of. It looks at former sites of nuclear power plants and testing sites from the former Soviet Union and the Marshall Islands and the people who lived around them.


Tears of Poseidon   

Tears of Poseidon Film Poster
Tears of Poseidon Film Poster

ポセイドンの涙 「Poseidon no Namida」

Release Date: March 7th, 2015

Running Time: 71 mins.

Director: Takao Oshima, Jun Kashima,


A few days before March 11th that day back in 2011 when an earthquake and tsunami hit the Tohoku region and this documentary chooses to focus on the Maritime Self-Defence Force and the personnel who worked on the disaster elief and the people they helped. This one looks pretty powerful because it reunites survivors of the disaster with the people who saved them.



Fukushima Rokkasho Mirai E no Dengon  Fukushima Rokkasho Mirai E no Dengon Film Poster

福島 六ヶ所 未来への伝言 「Fukushima Rokkasho Mirai E no Dengon」

Running Time: 105 mins.

Release Date: February 15th, 2014

Director: Megumi Shimada


Photographer Megumi Shimada takes her camera and documents the continued struggle of people living with the aftereffects of the March 11th earthquake and tsunami. More specifically, some families in Fukushima and Rokkasho who were affected by the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, farmers, fishermen and people suffering from the effects of radiation.


Ignorance of Knowledge    Muchi no Chi Film Poster

無知の知 「Muchi no Chi」

Release Date: November 01st, 2014 (Japan)

Running Time: 107 mins.

Director: Choya Ishida

Writer: N/A (Screenplay),

Starring: Yukio Edano Tetsuro Fukuyama, Naoto Kan, Kenichi Shimomura, Tetsuo Sawada, Kaoru Yosano,


In this 3/11 documentary we see former government ministers interviewed about their response to the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. We also get insight into the rise of green energy with solar power getting analysed as well as the restart of Japan’s nuclear power plants.



Mono oki no Piano (Piano Barn)    Mono oki no Piano Film Poster

物置のピアノ 「 Mono oki no Piano」

Release Date: September 27th, 2014 (Japan)

Running Time: 115 mins.

Directors: Chiaki Nitani

Writer: Miho Saito, Nozomi Kasahara, Yuto Kitsunai (Screenplay), Misaho Hara (Original Story)

Starring:  Ena Koshino, Kyoko Yoshine, Takahiro Watanabe, Shiro Sano, Kaori Kanda, Junkichi Orimoto, Yume Sasaki, Hatsunori Hasegawa,


Two sisters living on a peach farm in Koori town, Fukushima Prefecture,are opposites. Haruka Miyamoto (Yoshine) feels less beautiful than her sister Akiba Miyamoto (Koshino) and hates being compared to her. She finds comfort in playing a piano in a barn. A year after the Great East Japan Earthquake, she decides she wants to be a pianist. Akiba, for her part, moved to Tokyo to attend college. When she moves back to Koori, Haruka is unsettled and memories connected to the disaster she has tried to forget resurface.


Tanikawa-san, Please Create One Poem   Tanikawa-san, Please Create One Poem Film Poster

谷川さん、詩をひとつ作ってください。 「Tanigawa-san, Uta wo Hitotsu Tsukutte Kudasai」

Release Date: November 15th, 2014 (Japan)

Running Time: 82 mins.

Director: Nobuaki Sugimoto

Starring: Shuntaro Tanikawa,


Shuntaro Tanikawa is one of the most widely read and highly regarded living poets both in Japan and abroad according to Wikipedia. He has written more than sixty books of poetry and translated Charles Schulz’s Peanuts. On top of that he co-wrote Kon Ichikawa’s Tokyo Olympiad and wrote the lyrics to the theme song of Howl’s Moving Castle. Following the Great East Japan Earthquake he has attempted to capture the scale of the disaster on the people who endured it and his work and the people who inspired it are featured in this documentary. I would like to see this one.




ASAHIZA Ningen ha, Doko he Iku      Asahiza Film Image

ASAHIZA 人間は、どこへ行く 「ASAHIZA Ningen ha, Doko he Iku」  

Release Date: November 15th, 2014 (Japan)

Running Time: 74 mins.

Director: Hikaru Fujii



The ASAHIZA is an old movie theatre in Fukushima which was opened in 1923 and closed in 1991 after serving its community well and yet it is still the focus of community activity even after the 3/11 disaster and memories of the place are shared by interviewees in this documentary.


My Technicolor Girl

夢の女 ユメノヒトYume no onna Yume no Hito

Release Date: April 09th, 2016

Running Time: 71 mins.

Director: Rei Sakamoto

Writer: Futoshi Nakano (Screenplay)

Starring: Kazuhiro Sano, Kiyomi Itoh, Hanako Wada, Maki Nishiyama,


Synopsis: Nagano (Kazuhiro Sano) has spent 40 years in a mental hospital in Fukushima with only the memory of his first love on his mind (love sickness?). However, during the evacuation when the Great East Japan Earthquake hit on March 11, 2011, knowing that he’s already completely healed, he makes his way back out to into the world and tracks down where his first love is… Tokyo, if you’re curious. She lives with her son and his wife and so Nagano mounts his bike and heads to Tokyo…  His story is like that of Urashima Taro, the Japanese fisherman who went beneath the sea as a young man and returned to an unfamiliar world. 

And that’s about it for the trailers and films. There are probably more but this is a strong list to start with. While looking for a trailer for the film Eclair for my last post I found a YouTube channel which charts the recovery efforts in one of the areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami. It acts as a good news story and reminds us that the disaster might not be on our television/computer screens but it is far from over.

9 thoughts on “Great East Japan Earthquake Aftermath on Film

  1. This is such a great post (and not because you mention me)… a sort of lovely, unique and cinematic way (so appropriate for a film blog!) to commemorate the second anniversary of the earthquake.

    Sadly, I seen barely anything from this list – only 「ヒミズ」. Hopefully some more will screen at festivals to come.

    I watched The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom on March 11th – Lucy Walker made it available for free on that day on her website. It was both sad and uplifting at the same time. I remember finding the opening scenes of 「ヒミズ」, filmed directly on location in the earthquake zone, very powerful. You see the same locations in the documentary, and it’s even more powerful – especially the shots of the tsunami wave which are in incredible (incredible to believe that a wave could be so powerful).

    1. Thanks. The sheer amount of films covering the event meant that it is never far from the mind of a cinephile interested in Japanese films and it seemed like the best way to commemorate the event alongside posting charity screenings. All credit goes to the Japanese filmmaking community for making these films. I hope that people find this post useful in trying to track down films which are about March 11th and are made aware of the disaster. It’s inspiring to see that people are rebuilding and that films are playing a part.

      I did not watch The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom. I wish I’d known it was going to get screened… I still remember so many scenes from Himizu but it’s seeing the destruction of the tsunami and ending sequence that sticks in my mind. I still get shivers up and down my spine.

      1. You should add to the list when new films are made…

        I only heard about the Tsunami & The Cherry Blossom screening that day (in the evening) via Twitter, I did retweet and post on FB about it but I think only one of my friends also took the opportunity to watch it.

        I’m thinking of featuring this post on the next Trailer Weekly (you know, in the Bonus Bits), I’m assuming you’ve got no objections?

  2. This is a great post and wow, that is a lot of films. It’s difficult to believe it’s been two years though, in fact if you’d asked me I would have probably thought it closer to one. Strangely, we were watching a documentary only a couple of days ago about the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant and the work there to try and gain some level of safety on the site – which to be honest doesn’t look as though it’s going to be achieved for quite a while yet not to mention incredibly dangerous for the people carrying out the work.
    So sad.

    1. Thanks. There are a lot of films but it reflects the scale of the disaster. There’s so much left to do in terms of the recovery and helping people so It’s heartening to see the filmmaking community is keeping the disaster and its aftermath relevant especially when the news media move on to the next story.

      Whenever I think of the guys working at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant I consider them heroes. There was a recent BBC news report which tracked how people around the plant felt about them and how the one worker willing to talk felt ostracised because of their connection to TEPCO.

  3. Great post! I had no idea so many films had been made regarding the Great East Japan Earthquake. I’ve been really eager to see the two Sono films and “Reunion” sounds fascinating. I’ll try my best to find a way to see some of these films.

    I as well remember where I was when I heard about the Earthquake and Tsunami. I was on my way out the door to go to work and saw that infamous footage of what looked to be a tidal wave of debris and shattered homes destroying an entire coastal community.

    I remember feeling helpless and wanted to help and decided to donate to Global Giving (a great worldwide charity that shows you where your money is being spent and it’s former US President Bill Clinton has praised it in the past). I wasn’t able to give much but I felt like I was doing something and I believe all of us Japanese film fans, who blog about that country’s art, in some small way, have helped in some small way by purchasing their wonderful art and talking about it.

    Check out my Japanese film blog

    1. Thanks for the reply 🙂 I’ve already visited your blog and I follow it as well!

      I have to admit that this post made me appreciate the Japanese film community more. It seems that the disaster has mobilised people into thinking more and it shows people unfamiliar with Japanese cinema that it is capable of more than just extreme cinema/splatter titles.

      That footage was terrifying. I also remember anibloggers and Japanese film fans uniting to alert everybody about the disaster and relay news to each other about everything from the safety of individuals to the different ways individuals could help. I did the same. I consider it one of the moments that made me feel proud to be a netizen and these films make me proud to be a cinephile.

      and I believe all of us Japanese film fans, who blog about that country’s art, in some small way, have helped in some small way by purchasing their wonderful art and talking about it.

      I agree.

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