Children of Tohoku

On Friday, March 11, 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Tohoku, Japan’s rural northeast, combined with a destructive tsunami to wipe out villages, ignite a nuclear crisis, and cause the greatest mass loss of life in Japan since World War II.

Caught in the disaster were the children of Tohoku, who went from finishing a school year one moment to facing tragedy the next.

This page lists some news stories about children in Tohoku that have caught our attention. Below the news stories are lists of benefit projects, children’s and YA books, and teaching resources.

We hope to add further information. If you happen to notice a noteworthy news item or resource, either in English or Japanese, please leave a comment to tell us.

Thank you for visiting, reading, and providing feedback.

News on Children of Tohoku

3/11 tsunami survivors become teachers to protect lives, about new teacher who experienced 3.11 as a sixth grader and now teaches in Miyagi, Japan News, 13 March 2022

Miyagi school that burned in tsunami revived as a monumentAsahi Shimbun, 11 March 2022

10 years after Fukushima disaster, this nurse may be the region’s best hope, about geriatric nurse who experienced 3.11 at age 12 and has remained in region, New York Times, 9 March 2021

Sumo ring offering respite to [young] Tohoku victims a decade afterJapan Times, 9 March 2021

Memories and lessons for [Tohoku] children born after 3/11, Japan Times, 7 March 2021

Japan’s children of the tsunami shaped by tragedyJakarta Post, 4 March 2021

Late brother’s dream inspires teen to wait for Olympic flame together, about a boy aspiring to achieve his brother’s dream of becoming a Shinkansen driver, Japan News, 10 March 2020

A disaster frozen in time, about the ruins of Kesennuma Kōyō High School becoming a museum,, 11 December 2020

Theatre for Fukushima: voices from the silence, about 12 student survivors from Fukushima performing Yu Miri’s play “Still Life” about Fukushima, 20 May 2019

Newborn heart problems surged after Fukushima nuke disaster: studyHealthDay, 13 March 2019

A rose for her: Woman comforted by flowers with same name as [18-year-old] daughter killed in 3.11The Mainichi, 11 March 2019

S. Korea kids encourage reconstruction with bannerThe Japan News, 10 March 2019

2011 tsunami proved to be a ‘lifesaver’ for one Iwate resident in late teens at time of disaster, Asahi Shimbun, 9 March 2019

Better safe than sorry: long climb to school in disaster-hit area, Asahi Shimbun, 26 February 2019

Post-disaster children start elementary school in Tohoku, about first cohort of children born after the tsunami entering school, Asahi Shimbun, 1 April 2018

A young monk finds her calling, first-person essay by woman who was 15 at the time of the earthquake, New York Times, 10 March 2018

Miyagi school, which lost 74 kids in March 11 tsunami, closed,, 26 February 2018

The school beneath the wave: The unimaginable tragedy of Japan’s tsunami, about Okawa elementary school, Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture, 24 August 2017

Alterations in physique among young children after the Great East Japan Earthquake: Results from a nationwide surveyJournal of Epidemiology, epub 30 May 2017

The children of Fukushima return, six years after the nuclear disasterNew York Times, 21 April 2017

Giving Tohoku children opportunities to enjoy the seaTokyo Shimbun, 11 July 2017

Six years after Fukushima—women and children still suffer mostDeutsche Welle, 10 March 2017

Miyagi survivor, 17, keeps memory alive via storytellingJapan Times, 10 March 2017

Six years on, Fukushima child evacuees face menace of school bullies, Reuters, 9 March 2017

‘I have no choice but to keep looking’: five years after the tsunami, a husband still searches the sea for his wife, joined by a father hoping to find his daughter. New York Times Magazine, 2 August 2016

Undertaker working for child survivors of Tohoku tsunamiJapan Times, 26 April 2016

Post-traumatic growth of children affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and their attitudes to memorial services and media coveragePsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 5 April 2016.

Saga of lost Rikuzentakata tsunami boat forges pan-Pacific friendship, about bilingual children’s book written after Takata High School’s boat washed up in California, Japan Times, 13 March 2016

“Watch me now, Grandma”: Bereaved 3.11 survivor, now 19, studies earthquakesMainichi Shimbun, 11 March 2016; in Japanese

Five years after Japan’s 3.11 quake, survivors find relief in recoveryVanity Fair, 10 March 2016 (includes photos of children)

Japanese national trauma: Changing trends in Japanese picture books since the Tohoku earthquake, Worlds of Words (WOW) blog, University of Arizona, 21 December 2015

Thyroid cancer rates higher in kids near Fukushima nuke plant, NBC News, 8 October 2015

Survivors speak of grief, guilt and life after tsunami, includes profile of boy who was 16 when tsunami struck his Miyagi town and swept away his father, Japan Times, 10 March 2015

NGOs looking out for little lives in the wake of 3/11Japan Times, 8 March 2015

Tohoku teens plan thank-you festival in ParisJapan Times, 11 July 2014 / TOHOKU teenagers bloom in Paris, TOMORROW, NHK World, 13 October 2014

Tohoku man honors [five-year-old] brother killed in tsunami with hundreds of blue carp streamers, Rocket News, 7 May 2014

PTSD plagues Tohoku three years after March 11 disaster: More than 30 percent of children in disaster area battle with the psychological side effects, The Diplomat, 11 March 2014

Tohoku kids stressed, haunted by traumaJapan Times, 10 March 2014

Girl who wrote letter to missing mum after tsunami ready for schoolAsia One, 26 March 2013

Power of poetry penned by survivors of 3/11 is showcased by ASIJ project, Japan Times, 9 March 2013

Iwate teen’s soccer ball floated to AlaskaUSA Today, 23 April 2012

Pupils excelled on 3/11 but life since a struggleJapan Times, 10 March 2012

Tohoku teen feels guilt of being lone survivorJapan Times, 24 February 2012

Grandparents stifle grief to raise orphaned boyJapan Times, 23 February 2012

Teen girl separated from friend narrowly survives tsunamiAsahi Shimbun, 11 April 2011

Tohoku teens share views of survivalJapan Times, 10 November 2011

Ishinomaki girl comforts friends’ familiesDaily Yomiuri, 12 October 2011

Teenager’s tsunami art on postcard lifting spiritsDaily Yomiuri, October 8, 2011

Fukushima high school golfer shoots for glory in tourneyDaily Yomiuri, 23 September 2011

Two boys who lost mother to tsunami express feelings through artMainichi Daily News, 12 May 2011

Children’s 99.8 percent survival rate in Kamaishi was “not a miracle”WEDGE Infinity, 22 April 2011

Japan struggles with how to heal “children’s hearts”, National Public Radio, 22 April 2011

Five-year-old’s view of eventsMainichi Shimbun, 21 April 2011

One room schoolhouseKyodo News, 21 April 2011

March disaster affecting school operations in new fiscal yearJiji Press, 4 April 2011

“Dear Mommy. I hope you’re alive. Are you okay?” 4-year-old quake survivor writes, NBC News, 30 March 2011

Local wisdom a lifesaver for kids, Daily Yomiuri, 29 March 2011

Man’s dying wish saves children’s livesAsahi Shimbun, 29 March 2011; in Japanese

Survivors strive to start picking up the pieces, Japan Times, 27 March 2011

Tsunami’s childrenOPEN Magazine, 26 March 2011

“Cinderella baby” cheers evacueesSankei News, 18 March 2011; in Japanese

Benefit Projects for, about Children of Tohoku

APRICOT, Allied Psychotherapy Relief Initiative for the Children of Tohoku

3/11 Kids Photo Journal

From Hand to Hand exhibition

Kidzuna project in Nagoya

Children’s Literature about Children of Tohoku

Beyond Me, middle grade novel in verse by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu

Hotaka: Through My Eyes—Natural Disaster Zones, middle grade/YA novel by John Heffernan

Kenta and the Big Wave, picture book by Ruth Ohi

Riku and the Kingdom of White, middle grade novel by Randy Taguchi, translated by Raj Mahtani

TOMO: Friendship Through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories YA anthology including ten translations from Japanese, edited by Holly Thompson (ebook; proceeds to teen survivors)

Up From the Sea, YA novel in verse by Leza Lowitz


The Kamaishi Miracle television program. Kazuyo Fukuda, dir. Tokyo: NHK. 50 mins.

TOMORROW television series on NHK World TV

Article for children “Surviving the Tsunami,” Storyworks. Vol. 19, No. 5.

BBC Children of the Tsunami documentary

Books Children of the Tsunami (Vol 1, Vol 2), 80 essays by children from the disaster zone and in-depth stories of seven children, in Japanese

Book Ghosts of the Tsunami by Richard Lloyd Perry, centered on the story of Okawa Elementary school in Miyagi prefecture. Related podcast, The School Beneath the Wave (32:38).

7 responses to this post.

  1. Hello. My name is Andrew Grimes and I am the founder and director of Tokyo Counseling Services. Over the last two years we have in our free time created and initiated an organization to provide funding to support and enable professional mental health care, emotional counseling and psychotherapy services for all of the children under stress in the long recovery period of Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate Prefectures.

    The charity we created is called APRICOT and this is as you may well guess an acronym as follows:

    APRICOT = Allied Psychotherapy Relief Initiative for the Children of Tohoku.

    We have created a basic website which we will soon be replacing with a new one which has been created by professional web designers, illustrators, writers, editors and others all of whom have freely donated their time, expertize and passion to help the children of Tohoku.

    We are not professional translators and although our receptionists are doing their best we are in need of kind hearted individuals or companies who are professional J – E and E – J translators.

    I would greatly appreciate it if you could consider helping us in any way you may be in a position to do. You can see our current website at:

    Thank you.



    Most importantly APRICOT’s mission is set in our hearts and minds: that we will together volunteer and work to protect the mental health and the healthy emotional and psychological development of the Children of the Tohoku Region over the coming seventeen years, that is until all of them enjoy their Coming of Age Days, when they will become young adults, healthy and happy:

    Please Support the Team Apricot Children by making a donation to secure their mental health and promote their healthy emotional development:


    Andrew Grimes JSCCP (#4572), JCP (0061)

    Director, Tokyo Counseling Services.




  2. Posted by SCBWI Japan Translation Group on June 28, 2014 at 8:43 am

    Thank you, Andrew, for sharing this information with us. We have circulated it on the SCBWI Japan and SCBWI Japan Translation Group email listservs and hope for the success of APRICOT.


  3. No, it is I who should thank you! Thanks to you kindly circulating the information I posted on your SCBWI Japan and SCBWI Japan Translation Group email listservs APRICOT had several very positive replays and now two J —> E translators have joined us and as ‘Apricot Ambassadors’ are donating their free time and talents to translate for APRICOT’S monthly newsletter
    (email: if you are interested in subscribing! 🙂 .

    What would be of great help to us would be if one or two kind souls who can translate from E —> J would be so gracious as to volunteer likewise. yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

    Thank you for you great help and support for the APRICOT! We really do appreciate it very much. APRICOT – “For the children of Tohoku – no child left behind”


  4. Posted by Naomi on January 26, 2017 at 3:17 am

    Hi my name is Naomi and I was wondering if you guys are going to translate the last of the Jade Trilogy Dragon Sword and Wind Child I love that book and the second book so much and it makes me a little sad that the last book is not translated yet so I was hoping if it’s possible for it to be translated as well as the other books of the Moribito series too


    • Posted by SCBWI Japan Translation Group on January 26, 2017 at 11:32 am

      Hello! We would love to see further books in these series come out, too. Publishers make that decision. If you as a reader wish to see more books come out in a series, you can try contacting the publisher of the first books in the series: VIZ Media for the Dragon Sword and Wind Child books, and Arthur A. Levine Books (an imprint of Scholastic Inc.) for the Moribito books. Both publishers are also on Twitter and Facebook.


  5. Posted by Carmen Grau on January 8, 2022 at 10:51 pm

    My name is Carmen Grau Vila, I am a Spanish Journalist and researcher based in Japan. Here I attach a link. It is a news story on young japanese students expressing their experience during the disaster through theatre. The story has Spanish, English and French available. I hope is useful to be included. My best regards and thank you for this website and information.


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