A banner showing the height of the tsunami that hit Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, on March 11, 2011, is hung on a building overlooking Shibuya's scramble crossing in Tokyo. Photo: Japan Today
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Banner showing 3/11 tsunami height hung at Shibuya’s scramble crossing

30 Comments

A big banner is hanging from the side of a building overlooking Shibuya’s iconic scramble crossing in Tokyo to remind people of the damage caused by the tsunami that devastated the Tohoku region on March 11, 2011.

The red line on the banner — 16.7 meters up— indicates the height of the massive waves that struck the costal areas of Iwate and Miyagi Prefecture during the Great East Japan Earthquake eight years ago.

The company behind this thought-provoking banner is Yahoo Japan Corp, which used the highest recorded wave height in Ofunato City, Iwate Prefecture. Below the red line, the ad’s message reads, “Although the Heisei Era (1989-April 30, 2019) will be coming to a close as we move forward into a new period, let us never forget what happened on that day.”

In March 2017, Yahoo Japan Corp posted a similar advertisement along the then-Sony Building in Tokyo’s bustling Ginza district. The current banner in Shibuya will stay until March 14.

A Yahoo Japan spokesperson said the company decided to place this new banner in Shibuya, where young people congregate, showing them where the tsunami would have hit had it been Shibuya.

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30 Comments
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In the picture it doesn't look like anyone even notices! The problem here is people forget, there were huge tsunami's before in that area, and there were huge stone markers warning following generations that "this is how high" or "how far" the tsunami came!

No one listened, and few will listen or pay attention in the future too!

Just another disaster waiting to happen somewhere down the line here!

-2 ( +13 / -15 )

I appreciate the poster, but don't think people passing through Shibuya will probably pay much attention to it.

Doesn't mean it is pointless, but just acknowledging the reality.

People say "never forget" and yet people DO forget. And then there are succeeding generations that never experienced it to begin with.

For my part, every March 11th, I force myself to watch videos of that day. To remember that horrific feeling we all had as we witnessed what unfolded that day and in the days to follow. And to remember the raw power on display as the tsunami rolled in, obliterating everything in their path.

2 ( +11 / -9 )

I find it hard to watch footage of that day, and I almost never look up in Shibuya anymore, but I'll keep an eye out for it, next time I'm there.

Hard to believe it's 8 years already.

19 ( +19 / -0 )

Damn ..that high.... brings it back to the raw reality again...As mentioned above wonder how many Shibuya pedestrians really take good notice.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

This really puts things into perspective, and to imagine how deep Shibuya would be flooded would seem unreal.

Does anyone know if this is the highest wave height ever recorded in Japan for a tsunami?

9 ( +11 / -2 )

I'm lucky enough to live a few 100m above sea level but I can assure you the thought always crosses my mind when I visit the coast. Glancing about for the nearest mtn., elevated area or strong building, gauging how quickly I can sprint there.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Here's a sobering reminder for anyone living in Tokyo or any part of Japan very close to sea level. The next time you enter into metro entrance at street level, look for that sign that states the elevation that you are currently at. A lot of those street level entrances are at 2 to 4 metres above sea level and the 3-11 tsunami waves were as high as 16.7 metres. Even if that entrance has those new tsunami proof doors, I'd have that escape plan all worked out for when the alert is made because less than half do and many more points are not protected. Stay alert, stay safe!

13 ( +13 / -0 )

The next time you enter into metro entrance at street level, look for that sign that states the elevation that you are currently at.

If you have an iphone the built-in compass has a altimeter. I use when I go hiking all the time.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

@divinda,

Does anyone know if this is the highest wave height ever recorded in Japan for a tsunami?

The short answer is "no". There have been tsunami in Japan that have been in the 30~80 meter range and I think there has even been one that was 100 meters.

However, while those were long ago, there was a tsunami that I remember that was relatively recent. It was in 1993 as a result of an earthquake off the western coast of Hokkaido and caused a tsunami that reached a height of 31 meters. I remember the footage. The proximity of the earthquake to the coast resulted in tsunami occurring with very little warning.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Luckily Tokyo doesn’t have earthquakes or harbors and canals.

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

Yes、but how far inland was that 16.7 m?

-10 ( +0 / -10 )

@performing.

Up to 40.5 metres (133 ft) in Miyako in Tōhoku's Iwate Prefecture, and which, in the Sendai area, traveled up to 10 km (6 mi) inland.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Like it or not, Japanese treat the reign of each Emperor as an era, and this era is coming to an end. This banner reinforces the belief that 3/11 was the most significant event for Japan in the Heisei era. "What happened during Heisei? Oh yes, that terrible tsunami". That's a good connection or consciousness to have going forward. It's much better than people associating Heisei with SMAP or mobile phones, or some kind of fashion, which is what Nippon TV and the other idiotic tv channels will have you believe.

The tsunami was of course an apolitical Act of God, which also means Yahoo can mention it without any controversy.

As the other posters say, when you are by the coast or at sea level nearby, it would be wise to mentally mark where to run. Such is life in a disaster-prone country.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

Up to 40.5 metres (133 ft) in Miyako in Tōhoku's Iwate Prefecture

Yeah, I just checked about the heights of the 2011 tsunami, and it was about 40m in places, or about 2.5 times the height shown here.

And isn't that the Magnet Building at Shibuya crossing? I don't think this building is even that tall!

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

I don't particularly care about that poster, or how many people pay attention to it.

Every March 11, I remember what it was like at my friend's home, in Sendai. very close to where the waters stopped. I was there that day.

And every March 11, I acknowledge that tragic anniversary by remembering my conversation with a young woman, on the seawall at Nobiru Beach, a year to the date later, who from a nearby hilltop watched her entire town, and family, get wiped out.

I do not need that poster.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Being from the coast Florida; pick one, and having lived along a beach somewhere, most of my life (whether in North America or Japan), I've always been quite concious of my AGL Height. This wave would have wiped out anywhere along the Coast of Florida; easily.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

If they look up, they will see the advertisement for Yahoo Japan. The red line emphasizes it.

The small print is for anyone with a flexible enough neck, who has the time and energy.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Nothing wrong with a reminder of the disaster, however the "height" of the tsunami depends entirely on where it its, so giving numbers like this is meaningless.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

I really don't see the point of it. It didn't hit Shibuya, and there's Nothing people can do to stop one that comes. Maybe to incite fear? maybe because the Olympics are coming and they bid on it while saying how much Japan suffered in the Tohoku disasters? To show people how utterly helpless they are? To get people to desperately cling to an outdated web search engine that has already stopped in most parts of the world?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

All good and well. I try to remember things that happen to people everywhere. This being a very we-first country, I didn't hear very many people talking about the massive earthquake and tsunami in Southeast Asia in 2004 that killed a couple hundred thousand nor the earthquakes in Chile, New Zealand or Haiti that were pretty devastating. Let's remember the human suffering worldwide.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

We are very sad for normal disasters but Japan is always working on negative minds of people too much.

it is true that Japan cannot live without tragic drama. Why ???.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

This being a very we-first country, I didn't hear very many people talking about the massive earthquake and tsunami in Southeast Asia in 2004 that killed a couple hundred thousand nor the earthquakes in Chile, New Zealand or Haiti that were pretty devastating.

Front page news on December 26, 2004 of the Japan times in English, and across the Japanese newspapers as well. I remember it well, as I'd never heard of such a thing and it was so shocking.

Or do you mean that Japan does not talk about that Tsunami now? Which countries is the Japan tsunami still being talked about in?

It seems you're criticizing the Japanese for doing what people do everywhere - remember their own tragedies better than they remember others'.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

We are very sad for normal disasters but Japan is always working on negative minds of people too much.

From my experience, this is not the case. Japan is very positive (but not perfect, obviously) and upbeat.

it is true that Japan cannot live without tragic drama. Why ???.

If it were true, which it isn't, you could apply that to almost any other country who remember past disasters/traumas/attacks.

There's nothing wrong with remembering the victims of the tsunami, even if it appears to be a cynical advertising ploy.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

No one is even looking at it and this only causes negativity among the populace, as if any more is needed! As others mentioned Shibuya wouldn't even be hit by a tsunami so a waste of money on something that shouldn't be there. Another massive fail for Japan

0 ( +6 / -6 )

No one is even looking at it

Well, as I said, I rarely gape in awe at Shibuya these days, but it's hard to tell from that picture of 20 people walking in opposite directions to the poster that nobody at the crossing or immediate area is looking at it. Something like 2,500 people cross each time the lights change.

and this only causes negativity among the populace, as if any more is needed!

Commemorating/reminding people of a devestating disaster is hardly negative.

Shibuya wouldn't even be hit by a tsunami so a waste of money on something that shouldn't be there. Another massive fail for Japan

Perhaps it should be lying flat on the coastal areas where the tsunami hit. Obviously much more people will see it there.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Its a sobering thought, we ( humans ) think that were invincible and all conquering, but nature has a habit of putting us firmly back in our place. At 16.7 m no one has a cat in hells chance of survival.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

That’s nice Yahoo! but still comes across like an ad. I don’t mind companies sharing how much they’ve contributed to the reconstruction of the area.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It's nice to get a sense of scale of the tsunami but I'm sure it's not an easy thing to look at because it's so text heavy

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Like it or not, Japanese treat the reign of each Emperor as an era, and this era is coming to an end. This banner reinforces the belief that 3/11 was the most significant event for Japan in the Heisei era. "What happened during Heisei? Oh yes, that terrible tsunami".

Seems even you have a short memory. Heisei will more than likely be remembered for ALL the disasters, Hanshin -Awaji Dai Shinsai, Tohoku, Kumamoto, and plenty more!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It's nice to get a sense of scale of the tsunami but I'm sure it's not an easy thing to look at because it's so text heavy

That's essentially what I thought. Good idea, but not the best design.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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