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'Moving Forward: Life After the Great East Japan Earthquake' opens March 4 at Fowler

Exhibit commemorates the victims and the struggles of the survivors and highlights the reconstruction and recovery efforts.

On March 11, 2011, a devastating magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit the coast of northeastern Japan, triggering a tsunami that sent waves as far as six miles inland.

On the occasion of the one-year anniversary of the disaster, "Moving Forward: Life After the Great East Japan Earthquake," on display at the Fowler Museum at UCLA from March 4 through April 15, commemorates the victims and the struggles of the survivors and highlights the reconstruction and recovery efforts.

Featuring a series of large-scale photographs, short articles and videos, the exhibition focuses on the stories of those recovering in the Tohoku region, which was hardest hit by the disaster, and how the people of Japan are dealing with this difficult situation and helping one another in their day-to-day lives.

This exhibition is co-organized by the UCLA Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies and The Kahoku Shimpo newspaper and is guest-curated by Hitoshi Abe, director of UCLA's Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies and chair of the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design. It debuted in Washington, D.C., in November 2011 and appeared at the Rockefeller Memorial Church in Chicago in January 2012.

Arresting pictures taken by photographers for the local newspaper, The Kahoku Shimpo, in the hours and days following the quake and tsunami show the unprecedented destruction in the region. In one, a man and boy walk their bikes through the tangled mass that was once Otsuchi City. In another, a woman carries an elderly lady on her back as they head out of the now-unrecognizable city of Minami-Sanriku-cho. Yet other images captured in the days and months that followed reveal the hope and resilience of the people in this region and the recovery efforts that are now underway.

Several short articles excerpted from The Kahoku Shimpo are reproduced on graphic panels to offer a sampling of astounding stories: an emergency broadcaster who stayed at her microphone to broadcast evacuation warnings yet fled too late herself and perished; "memory search parties" that have sprung up to reunite loved ones with their keepsakes; and hundreds of thousands of volunteers from across Japan who have come to clear streets thick with rubble and sludge.

The exhibition is sponsored in part by the Japan Business Association of Southern California, the Japan Foundation and the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles and is supported by the U.S.–Japan Council. Special recognition is also extended to the Tohoku Gakuin University Volunteer Station Translation Project team, Mari Ishida, Timothy Unverzagt Goddard, Nathan Smith and Saran Oki.

In addition, a symposium will be held in conjunction with the exhibition and the anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami on Mar. 10 from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. at the Fowler Museum. Moderated by Hitoshi Abe, the symposium will feature discussant Christopher Hawthorne, Los Angeles Times architecture critic, and presenters Malka Older, a specialist in disaster risk-reduction and emergency preparedness at Save the Children, Hideya Terashima, editor of The Kahoku Shimpo, Masashige Motoe, an associate professor in the department of architecture and building science at Tohoku University's school of engineering, Toshio Hirano, senior manager of JEN (Japan Emergency NGO) and Junko Mabuchi,  East Japan Program Officer of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency. The symposium will be followed by a reception from 4 to 5:30 p.m.