Our documentary about one family’s escape from the tsunami that hit Japan earlier in the year, finally went out on Al Jazeera’s Witness strand in November. It seems to have been well received and was tweeted over 800 times, being particularly popular in Japan.
The film tells the story of of little known code of tsunami survival called Tendenko. In previous tsunamis the tight bonds of community and family that exist in Japan have led to whole families dying together, instead of each attempting to escape individually. In this way, communities saw several generations wiped out in one go. Tendenko, an old Sanriku code of survival, teaches that in the event of a tsunami each person should act alone to save themselves, therefore ensuring the survival of a greater number of people within the community. Our film tells the story of the Yorozu family of Kamaishi in Iwate prefecture. It was produced and co-directed by my brother Donald. Riwa Komatsubara was the Assistant Producer.
Donald wrote this piece for the Al Jazeera website exploring the history of Tendenko. It includes an extended interview with Prof Toshitaka Katada of Gunma University, an expert in Tendenko education.