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Rebuilding Tohoku three years on from the earthquake
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Shintomi Sushi was one of Kesennuma’s most popular sushi restaurants, serving a community of about 74,000. All that changed on March 11, 2011, when the
Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami
devastated the country’s
. Like many businesses in Tohoku, Shintomi Sushi was completely swept away by the tsunami and owners Masakazu Suzuki and Kazuhiro Suzuki lost everything.
In the aftermath of the earthquake, it was difficult for small business owners such as the Suzuki brothers to imagine rebuilding from scratch. Having lost their home and business, they spent two years traveling around the country, serving sushi wherever they were invited and sharing their story of survival. This is how they came across an initiative created by Google Japan, called
, to connect recovering businesses with skilled volunteers who could help.
In the case of Shintomi Sushi, which reopened in Kesennuma in January, the owners were paired with a designer who helped them rebuild their identity and create
their first-ever website
. Their new logo, inspired by the shape of Kanji "人" (people), captures their story of being connected to many people since the disaster, and how generous support from these new contacts helped them survive difficult times.
Find out how Shintomi Sushi rebuilt itself with the help of an Innovation Tohoku volunteer supporter
Even after three years, there are still over a quarter of a million residents who cannot return to their homes. And as
imagery from before and after the disaster
reveal, most of the landscape remains
. In an
that is currently running in Tokyo, photographs show the changes that have taken place in the region. There is still a great deal of work to be done, but progress is gradually being made to rebuild Tohoku.
Shintomi Sushi’s rebirth is just one of hundreds of stories from the more than 200 volunteers who’ve helped small businesses in the region, using the Internet to find new paths to growth in even the most challenging of business environments. We’re proud to have played a small part in their journey, and will continue to help as best we can.
Posted by Tomomi Matsuoka, Program Manager for Japan Disaster Preparedness and Recovery, Google Japan
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