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Chapter 1: 11 March 2011

Online teaching material ‘Life after Fukushima’ study pack

San ichi ichi, or 11 March 2011

Does the date 11 March 2011 mean anything to you? In Japanese, we say san (3), ichi (1) ichi (1), 3.11.

In Japan, we don't need a year to help us remember what happened that day. On 11 March 2011 at approximately 14:46 local time, Japan was hit by a tsunami, triggered by an earthquake measuring 9 on the Richter scale off Japan's north-eastern coast, Tohoku. The tsunami left a trail of destruction and wiped entire villages off the map. More than 15,000 people lost their lives. Countless others are missing. The earthquake is considered one of the worst in Japanese history.

Triple disaster

The Japanese media refer to the events of March 2011 as a 'triple disaster', because in the days following the earthquake and tsunami, a major nuclear accident occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The tidal wave had, in fact, flooded the generators of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, located on the coastline. This meant that the reactors did not have enough power to be cooled. This led to a nuclear meltdown, releasing radioactive particles into the environment. The Fukushima nuclear disaster is the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl (1986, Ukraine).

SCK CEN Academy_Lesmateriaal-10j-Fukushima_Hoofdstuk1_Newspaper


Look in your workbook for the corresponding task. For this exercise, use the two maps in the preceding newspaper article. You can also complete the task via this link.

SCK CEN Academy Lesmateriaal 10 jaar Fukushima H1 Masako

Meet Masako

"Hi! My name is Masako. I'm 17 years old. In the weeks following 11 March 2011, my parents and I were evacuated to hotels and evacuation centres outside of Ōkuma, my hometown. First, we moved to Aizu-Wakamatsu, but for several years now Fukushima town has been my new home because returning to Ōkuma has been difficult since the nuclear accident."

SCK CEN Academy - Lespakket Fukushima - H1 - Kaart

1. The town of Ōkuma

The tsunami flooded large parts of north-eastern Japan. My town, Ōkuma, was also badly affected. As a result of the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant located near Ōkuma, we had to leave our town. Sometimes we return by car, but I don't recognise my town anymore. When we return to Ōkuma, everything looks deserted. You can only drive on the main road. All other roads are closed due to the high radiation levels.

To the Ōkuma online archive.

2. Aizu-Wakamatsu

My parents and I had to evacuate along with all the other families living within a 20 km radius of the nuclear power plant. The evacuation zone was later extended to 30 km. We ended up in Aizu-Wakamatsu, a mountainous area in the west of Fukushima Prefecture. There we lived in temporary shelters. 

3. Fukushima town

As my dad still has family in Fukushima town, we moved our family there. I've lived here for 9 years now.


Find out the radiation dose for the three towns. Use the key on the map. Write down the values in your workbook (part 1) or complete the exercise via this link.

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  • Manual: Chapter 1

    For teachers: download the guide for Chapter 1 here.

    Guide C1

  • Workbook: Chapter 1

    For pupils: download the workbook for Chapter 1 here.


    Workbook C1

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    Click through to the next chapter: C2 - My life after Fukushima.

    Go to Chapter 2

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