November 1, 2012

A Year Later.

On March 11th, 2011 one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded struck off the coast of eastern Japan. The earthquake was so forceful it moved Honshu, the main island of the country, which is roughly the size of Minnesota, a whole eight feet. Registering 9.0 on the Richter scale, the earthquake sent a violent tsunami reaching speeds close to 500 mph and heights over 100 feet slamming into the cities that hug Japan’s coastline. These two events caused the disabling of power to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. When the back-up generators at the plant failed, the lack of a cooling system caused the plants nuclear reactors to meltdown. Radioactive material spewed into the atmosphere. It was the worst nuclear disaster to occur since Chernobyl.

Over 15,000 people perished and thousands are still unaccounted for.

In May of this year I spent a day driving through this area with my friend Aya, her dad and her grandfather (who lives in the region). While it was absolutely heart breaking to witness the devastation that occurred and to think about all the lives the tsunami and earthquake took, it was also beautiful witnessing the citizens of Japan hard at work rebuilding their lives.

Aya and her grandfather survey the wreckage.
I've collected sea glass my entire life. In all my years of searching, I've only found 10 or so pieces. In less than five minutes on a tiny section of beach I found dozens. It was a strange feeling holding them in my hand, knowing those beautiful bits of glass were created from something that caused so much destruction.

Amongst acres and acres of debris, this single tree remained. A tiny beacon of hope amongst the rubble. It was haunting.

You can still help.


  1. these pictures are amazing. and sad. thanks for reminding us.

  2. oh my goodness. thank you for sharing these

  3. This makes me want to cry, while making my heart happy. Happy because it's amazing to see people pick themselves up, and continue to move forward no matter how devastating something is. It's so much easier to let things defeat you, and just lie there waiting to die. I'm so proud of all of them for never giving up.

  4. These are beautiful and very poignant photos Whitney. I've never been in a major natural disaster, nor even at the sight of one in the aftermath, so I can't even imagine how it must have felt to be there. The courage of all those people is so inspiring.

  5. I'm glad you were able to take these. What a scene. I cannot imagine what it must have felt to walk through all of this. Life changing, most likely.

  6. These are really bittersweet photos. Thanks for sharing. x