Extending from Aomori Prefecture in the north, through Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures to the south, the vast Sanriku Kaigan (三陸海岸) is a rugged and beautiful stretch of coastline marked by steep rocky cliffs and a 'ria' topography. Rias are characterised by broad estuaries that funnel into long, narrow inlets. It is on the low-lying land around the rias of the Sanriku Kaigan that communities developed. Ironically these peculiarities that sustain life here also amplify tsunami – sadly the Sanriku coast bore the brunt of the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011.
Most of the low-lying areas of towns and villages here were levelled, and almost 20,000 people lost their lives. It's a humbling experience to see what remains and to try to imagine what was here before. Mass reconstruction efforts have taken place, with much success: existing businesses have re-established themselves and new restaurants and hotels are popping up everywhere.