Accepted Paper:

When the Tsunami hit the Ayukawa whaling town  


Masami Iwasaki (Hokkai-Gakuen University)

Paper short abstract:

Ayukawa-hama is one of the four small-type whaling communities which continue commercial whaling. The Earthquake of March 11, 2011 devastated the community. Whaling, having served as a foundation of Ayukawa-hama in its history, became a socio-cultural and economic core of their recovery effort.

Paper long abstract:

Whaling culture originated in the southern part of Japan and spread to the north as the whaling technology evolved. During the modern whaling era, Ayukawa-hama and its surrounding area in North-eastern part of the main island served as a center for coastal whaling as well as a home for many whalers of the Antarctic whaling fleet. The prosperity derived from whaling in Ayukawa-hama was such that the area is known as Whaling Town, or the Whaling Kingdom to this day.

On March 11, 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Giant Tsunami that was triggered by the quake caused devastation in a wide area along the coast of the Northeastern part of the main island. The epicenter of the earthquake was off the coast of Ayukawa-hama. Many lives were lost and the boats and buildings, including whaling stations were destroyed. This presentation first introduces the historical accounts of whaling in Ayukawa-hama, and the social-cultural significance of whaling for the local people. Secondly, it describes the devastation caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Giant Tsunami, with the focus on the Ayukawa-hama area. Lastly, it examines the present and the possible future of whaling community.

Panel P003
Anthropology of whaling issues: the present and future of whaling cultures (NME panel)