Quake, Tsunami, Radiation: Japan Two Years On

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Two elderly women are reflected on a monument on which names of tsunami victim from the district are carved in Arahama district in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, on March 11, 2013 (Corbis)

Guest blog provided by documentary film maker Ian Thomas Ash, who lives in Tokyo, Japan.

I asked a friend recently if it seems possible that it has been two years since the March 11, 2011, earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown here in Japan. She said that for her it doesn’t feel so much like it has been two years as much as there was “life before and life after” the disaster.

As the two-year anniversary of the March 11 disaster arrives, I find myself reflecting on how it all unfolded. Re-reading the guest blogs I was honored to write for Discovery News, I realized that my work not only told the story of what was happening in Japan at the time, but that it was also a record of my personal journey. Writing the blogs not only gave me the opportunity to share my documentary work with a larger audience, but it also gave me a way to focus my thoughts when there was so much chaos around me.

PHOTOS: Japan Earthquake and Tsunami: Before and After

In the two years since the March 11 disaster, I have made dozens of short films and two feature documentaries about the nuclear crises in Fukushima. As part of my reflection on all that I have witnessed during this time, I have re-edited and combined my early documentaries, beginning with the first one about panic buying in Tokyo under the threat of a nuclear meltdown.

Re-examining this journey has helped me to understand where to go from here; for although we must move forward, we must not forget where we began.

Watch my video here.

More of Ian’s documentaries can be seen on his website, Documenting Ian, and Youtube channel. Ian’s first feature documentary about Fukushima “In the Grey Zone” was awarded the Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary at the 2012 Rhode Island International Film Festival. Ian’s new feature documentary “A2”, about the children living near the damaged nuclear power plant in Fukushima, will be released later this year. Ian blogs at ianthomasash.blogspot.jp.