Tsunamis Flood Hakodate

By Ben Mirin, CIR

A few minutes after this was shot, a second tsunami flooded onto Route 5 in Hakodate. Leaving the city, which has water on both sides, became nearly impossible.

As I write this, I’m sitting hunched beneath my desk as more tremors continue to shake Nanae. I can only wonder how significant these tremors are further south.


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18 replies
  1. Karen Pettyjohn
    Karen Pettyjohn says:

    Thank you, Ben. Here in Concord, we woke up to news of the earthquake and tsunami, but no details on where the damage was. I knew that you’d have the information I needed about Nanae and Hakodate. Stay safe.

    Reply
  2. Ben Mirin
    Ben Mirin says:

    Now my heat’s turned off, and all my possessions are off the shelves and on the floor. There was a second tremor, and I have my hallway door open so I can be ready to run outside from my position beneath my dining room table. Any other suggestions for earthquake safety? Post ‘em here!

    Reply
    • frances wright
      frances wright says:

      Hello Ben, I just read that you were under a desk and dining room table during tremors . My son Brian lives in Rumoi and teaches English there. He just returned from a trip to Hakodate. I live in Vancouver which is in an earthquake zone. I got recent information from friends who read an article about a man who searches for people where there has been an earthquake. He said the people that have survived an earthquake are those who are beside a large piece of furniture and not under it.

      Reply
  3. David Nurenberg
    David Nurenberg says:

    Hi Ben – thank you so much for keeping us updated – we are all worried sick about our friends in Japan…please let everyone in Nanae and Hakodate know we are thinking of them, and that we want to help in whatever way they would find most useful.

    - David

    Reply
  4. Amanda Ginther
    Amanda Ginther says:

    Hey, I was an exchange student who lived in ??-machi a few years ago. I was wondering how Hakodate was fairing since I’ve lost alot of contact numbers for my Friends and Host Families. Thanks for having this posted. When I heard about the Tsunami I was fearing the worse and imagining the places I’d loved when there in ruins. It’s good to be able to see it for myself.

    Reply
  5. Hajime
    Hajime says:

    Hi, Ben. I`m Hajime.
    I think this earthquake is a kind of historical happening.
    And you have experienced yourself it in Japan.
    I`m so surprised that you are so courageous .
    In a foreign country that you` are not still familiar with, you could go around in a dark city alone!
    Maybe it`s not easy for most people to go through.
    In addition you made a record that I could share with and will remain in my mind for a long time.
    Again I look forward to your next report.
    Thank you for a good job.

    Reply
  6. Sue Merlino
    Sue Merlino says:

    Hi Ben – I happened upon your site here while on FB and saw your connection on the CCTV site. Please stay safe Ben and keep us posted when you are able.

    Reply
  7. Herb
    Herb says:

    I have been traveling regularly to Hakodate on business at Hakodate Dock since 2001. Your video was shot in an area I am very familiar with. I am sorry to see the damage caused by the flooding, and extend my sympathy to the residents of Hakodate, but I am glad to see that it hasn’t experienced the devastation experienced around Sendai. Thanks for putting the video on the web. it actually eases some of my concern for my friends there.

    Reply
  8. Chris
    Chris says:

    Ben,

    Thanks for this coverage, it is amazing to be able to watch this from back in the US. Take care of yourself!

    I wanted to clarify one thing about measuring earthquake strengths and impacts. The 8.9 seismic reading describes the magnitude of an earthquake, how much energy it was releasing at the epicenter. The ’4′ number that you were told sounds like it is the Japanese system which assess how much impact an earthquake has had on people, regardless of its magnitude.

    I only run through all this because on the Japanese scale 4 is huge — as you are seeing and reporting to us, massive impact on peoples’ lives and safety. A seismic reading of 4.0 seems like it would understate the scale of this disaster.

    Best of luck to our Japanese friends and family at this terrible time.

    Reply
    • Ben Mirin
      Ben Mirin says:

      Thanks for the information, Chris. I still have a lot to learn about how the Japanese measure, prepare for, and cope with natural disasters, and I appreciate the new info.
      A seismic reading of “4″ was what I heard through word of mouth back in my government office, as in, “from Nanae, the earthquake felt like a 4.” I didn’t intend my reference to this number as a quantitative or qualitative statement about the scale of the disaster.
      You are right to emphasize the scale of this catastrophe. Flooding caused most of the damage here in southern Hokkaido, and while that damage is less severe than further south, no one in Japan has been spared the emotional distress this disaster has caused.

      Reply
  9. Sonja Bolon
    Sonja Bolon says:

    Thank you for showing us Kakodate and reporting on developments. Sounds like you are doing all you can to prepare for further tremors. Do what you can to get rest, stay hydrated, and eat something nutritious (cookies are great comfort food but they only take you so far.)

    I have fond memories of Hakodate. My daughter lives in Otaru and we took a trip to Hakodate on her vacation. I hope the friendly people and beautiful city are not harmed. By the way, I would not ride the ropeway right now… I recall riding it last May with many excited middle school groups. Their excited voices are a part of that memory with the amazing sunset view of both harbors. Breath-taking. – Thanks for your time and videos and stay safe.

    Reply
  10. Elise
    Elise says:

    Hey Ben, I was looking around for videos about Hakodate and found yours. I was actually in an elevator yesterday, (I teach near Kokusai hotel,) when everything started. I left just after the flooding, but went home instead by the Hakodate mountain. Interesting to see what happened. There are restaurant and cafe owners I know there, I hope they are okay.

    Thanks for posting this, may be I’ll see you around the city sometime.

    Reply
  11. Susan Erickson
    Susan Erickson says:

    Ben, I am glad you are safe. Thank you for providing the information to us all. We are thinking of our friends in Nanae and Hakodate. Best, Susan

    Reply
  12. Dominic Noone
    Dominic Noone says:

    Hi Ben,
    Thanks for the updates.
    I was in Hakodate 3 weeks ago and was thinking about how the people and city had fared with this disaster.
    And your coverage has allayed my concerns.
    Keep up the good work.
    Thanks again.

    Reply
  13. Trace
    Trace says:

    Hey Ben-

    I was just in Hakodate about a month ago for vacation. It’s my favorite city on the planet, and I’ve got some good friends there who run the Keirin restaurant. It breaks my heart to see the city like that, but I’m glad to hear that by and large things are okay. Keep on with the updates, and I’ll be checking in.

    Reply
  14. Louise
    Louise says:

    Hi Ben, thanks a lot for making this report. I travelled to Hakodate last spring, and completely fell in love with it. I stayed in the hotel eki-mae, and remember the fish markets, trip up Hakodateyama and the amazing JR staff who managed to recover my lost rail pass. Everyone was so friendly; there was a fantastic chef in a seafood reastaurant who went out of his way to make me Ishikare-nabe. So I’m very anxious to find out how the city and it’s people are faring. Hopefully there hasn’t been too much damage, whatever that means..
    Louise x

    Reply
  15. kanayo
    kanayo says:

    Hi, Ben,
    thank you for putting this one up while i could not getting touch with my parents in Hakodate, it was a great info to have. I am wondering now how people in Hakodate by the water front is. I have heard Kanamori souko , Hokkaido University Meiji Kan have damages. Did 2m tsunami went though the west of Hakdoate? What is the estimate damage which was caused by Tsunami in Hakodate? Has shop opened I will have an Radio interview in the morning and would like to have a bit more clear information on the damages in Hakodate. Thank you

    Reply

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