Posted March 7th 2012 at 11:13 am by
in Great East Japan Earthquake, Post-disaster Planning

The Dynamic East Japan Earthquake Archives

Hidenori Watanave is an associate professor in the Faculty of System Design, Tokyo Metropolitan University.

• Nagasaki and Hiroshima Archives

The Dynamic East Japan Earthquake Archives

The Hiroshima Archive

It has been 66 years since atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and all the remaining A-bomb survivors will die out in the coming decades. This means that we will lose those people who, from their own experience, have the strongest desire for peace and a nuclear-free world.

With this in mind, a collaborative team of professors, students and volunteers developed multi-media, interactive maps of Nagasaki and Hiroshima to tell the story of those disasters. These Nagasaki archives and Hiroshima archives meld together over 66 years of accumulated material documenting life after the atomic bombs.

Watch this visualization of the archive at work, set to lovely classical music:

The archives have a goal: to pass on the experiences and messages of A-bomb survivors to future generations.

Beyond 311

On March 11, 2011 the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami completely destroyed the local people’s beloved towns, and the subsequent nuclear reactor accident brought a scourge of radioactive substances, putting an end to normal life.

One of the members of the Hiroshima Archive Production Committee survived the Earthquake. She and her baby lost their home in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture that day. Their everyday life was forever lost by disaster, which devastates a city. This situation resembled testimonies about “August 6, 1945” of  A-bomb victims. So, we understood the Hibakushas (Japanese word for survivors of either of the atomic explosions at Hiroshima or Nagasaki) stories again as the current parties concerned.

Ultimately, the earthquake changed the mission of the archives project as profoundly as it changed the landscape of east Japan. Our new motto at the archives is: “Learn about past tragedies, feel involved, and hand them down to future generations in your own words.”

Therefore, we are now developing The East Japan Earthquake Archive.

Pluralistic Digital Archives

The Dynamic East Japan Earthquake Archives

Photograph overlays

The Dynamic East Japan Earthquake Archives

360-degree panoramas

The East Japan Earthquake Archive is a pluralistic digital archive.

We use the digital virtual globe Google Earth to layer 360-degree panoramic images, disaster victims’ testimonies, 3D topographical data, building models from both before and after disaster, and photographs from a multitude of sources.

The user can move beyond time and space to get a panoramic view over the Japanese Islands through this interface.

The archive aims to promote a multifaceted and comprehensive understanding of the reality of the earthquake disaster.





Community of Memories

The Dynamic East Japan Earthquake Archives

Disaster victim testimonies

We collected all materials in cooperation with nationwide volunteers and local university students.  Our main effort was to develop a collection of memories called Community of Memories. This community enables various users to participate with the archives as creators – users can grow a collection of archives on their own.

In producing the Nagasaki and Hiroshima Archives, volunteers met in person to work on the project.  In contrast, after the East Japan Earthquake volunteers collaborated on line using Twitter and Facebook. This change came about as a result of a trend that emerged naturally after the earthquake – social media had been used actively to communicate and share information after March 11 of 2011.

We plan to use social media to collect messages of hope for peace and nuclear abolition from all over the world, and incorporate these messages into the digital archive in near future. We aim to make the archive a platform to gather the threads of stories for the future by sharing past memories and present messages in both physical and web spaces.

Future Observation

Mr. Kun-ichi Fujimoto (Hibakusha of Hiroshima)

We continue to collect images and words about the Earthquake, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We must hand down memories of tragedy in our era, and carry on the traditions that A-bomb victims of Nagasaki and Hiroshima have been establishing for 60 years. Our Pluralistic Digital Archives is an effective method for collaborative preservation of records and memories. We hope that many people will use the archive.

The East Japan Earthquake Archive

Hiroshima Archive | Nagasaki Archive

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