Survival of Shrines from the 2011 Great Tsunami
Takaaki Uda and Kazuya Sakai
Public Works Research Center, 1-6-4 Taito, Taito, Tokyo 110-0016, Japan
A massive magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurring on March 11, 2011, triggered a powerful tsunami that devastated large areas along Japan’s eastern Pacific coast. We investigated tsunami damage using satellite images and aerial photographs, and visited devastated sites, including 27 Shinto shrines, near the coast in 2011 and 2012. We found that all but two of these shrines survived the tsunami, even though tsunami height differed from place to place. As a memorial to those who lost their lives in previous tsunamis, shrines were built in places to which residents could safely evacuate. Many of these shrines were undamaged because their elevation was higher than the tsunami height, and the lives of those who evacuated to them were saved.
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