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The Great East Japan Earthquake and cultural heritage: towards an archaeology of disaster

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2015

Katsuyuki Okamura
1Osaka City Cultural Properties Association, 1-1-35 Hoenzaka, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 540-0006, Japan (Email:
Atsushi Fujisawa
2Archaeology Research Office, Tohoku University, 27-1 Kawauchi, Aoba Ward, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan (Email:
Yasuhisa Kondo
3Department of Computer Science, Tokyo Institute of Technology, 2-12-1-W8-72 Ookayama, Meguro-ku, Tokyo, 152-8552, Japan (Email:
Yu Fujimoto
4Culture and Information Science, Doshisha University, 1-3 Miyakodani, Kyotanabe, Kyoto, 610-0394, Japan (Email:
Tomokatsu Uozu
5History Research Institute, Otemae University, 6-42 Ochayashocho, Nishinomiya, Hyogo, 662-8552, Japan (Email:
Yumiko Ogawa
6Osaka Prefectural Government, 1-14-16 Nanko-Kita, Suminoe Ward, Osaka, 559-8555, Japan (Email:
Simon Kaner
7Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, University of East Anglia, 64 The Close, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK (Email:
Koji Mizoguchi
8Graduate School of Social and Cultural Studies, Kyushu University, 744 Motooka, Nishi Ward, Fukuoka, Japan (Email:


The earthquake that struck Japan on 11 March 2011, named the Great East Japan Earthquake by the Japanese government, was one of the largest seismic events the world has seen for generations. Akira Matsui reported his experience of visiting the areas devastated by the earthquake and tsunami soon afterwards, outlining the initial assessment of damage caused to museums and cultural heritage assets, and the plans for their rescue (Kaner et a/ 2011; Matsui 201 I a). The present contribution reports how far the implementation of these plans has been successful, the prospects for the future, and situates all of this in a broader context of archaeological response to earthquakes.

Research Article
Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd 2013

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