Nautilus

Is Japanese Culture Traumatized By Centuries of Natural Disaster?

The effects of centuries of natural disaster may be most obvious in Japanese culture.“Nichiren Calming the Storm,” a 19th century painting by Utagawa Kuniyoshi / Hulton Fine Art Collection / Getty Images

Ayumi Endo remembers the 2011 earthquake and tsunami with exquisite detail. She ran downstairs to screaming coworkers. The phones in Tokyo had stopped working, and the trains outside stopped running. To kill time, she went to a pub, and saw a tsunami chase a car on TV. The drama was seared into Ayumi’s memory. “We all knew how terrible this was,” she said. “It was like a movie scene.”

Years later, 3/11, as it is informally known, has left deep deaths directly caused by the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown combined.

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