Affective dark tourism encounters: Rikuzentakata after the 2011 Great East Japan Disaster

Annaclaudia Martini, Claudio Minca*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
59 Downloads (Pure)


This article discusses the case of Rikuzentakata, a town almost completely destroyed by the 2011 tsunami provoked by the Great East Japan Disaster. It shows how the town has directed some of its recovery efforts toward the development of a specific form of post-disaster tourism. Two main strategies implemented by the local authorities are analyzed in detail: first, the celebration of Ipponmatsu, or the Miracle Pine, a symbol of resilience in the face of devastation; second, the promotion of Rikuzentakata as the ‘Hiroshima of the North’. Both these discourses were based on the engineering and the apprehension of specific affective post-disaster atmospheres and perceived by residents and local authorities as key for attracting international visitors. Our analysis highlights how a politics of affect built around the tsunami has been spatialized and grounded using material landmarks (The Miracle Pine), but also narratives of hope and resilience based on comparisons with Hiroshima. Such affective atmospheres, we conclude, were planned and performed as an attempt to facilitate cross-cultural communication and allow visitors to contemplate death and disaster on their own terms, while at the same time involving them in a broader processes of healing from trauma and recovery for Rikuzentakata and its residents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-57
Number of pages25
JournalSocial and Cultural Geography
Issue number1
Early online date30 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Also titled:
Rencontres affectives du tourisme noir: Rikuzentakata après la catastrophe de 2011 au nord-est du Japon
Encuentros de turismo de duelo afectivo: Rikuzentakata después del gran terremoto de Japón oriental en 2011


  • dark tourism
  • geographies of affect
  • post-disaster tourism
  • tsunami
  • Tōhoku


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