On March 11, 2011 at 14:46, the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan occurred 70 kilometers off the Pacific coast of the Tohoku Region. Approximately 30 minutes later a devastating tsunami struck the Sanriku Coast. The suddenly rising waters killed nearly 20,000 people and destroyed countless homes, schools, buildings and bridges.

The tsunami was particularly destructive in Miyagi and Iwate prefectures where entire towns and city districts were washed away and swaths of land were reduced to rubble. Further south in Fukushima Prefecture, the tsunami caused a disastrous nuclear accident, but the Sanriku Coast fortunately escaped heavy contamination, being located over one hundred kilometers away. Radiation levels today remain unchanged from before March 2011.

Reconstruction works along the coast are still ongoing, especially in the worst-hit cities and towns, such as Rikuzentakata and Minamisanriku, where with monumental efforts the former town centers were elevated by over ten meters and new residential districts were built in the nearby hills to reduce damage by future tsunami. Read more about the recovery process in our recovery blog.

Tourists are encouraged to visit the Sanriku Coast to see the region's natural beauty, but also to witness the destructive force of the tsunami and the reconstruction process with their own eyes. Tourism does not only help the local economies, but it also contributes to keeping the region and the disaster from being forgotten.

Below is a list of tsunami-related points of interest. Note that several additional new museums and memorials are currently being built and scheduled to open along the coast over the coming months and years:

Iwate Tsunami Memorial and the Miracle Pine

View the museum page for admission details

Former Crisis Management Center

Former Nobiru Station

Museum Hours: 9:00 to 17:00
Museum Closed: Third Wednesday of each month
Museum Admission: Free

Taro Kanko Hotel

Below is a short introduction to some of the worst hit cities along the coast:







Getting there and around