6th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake

For those who live in Japan, earthquakes are almost part of their daily routine.

A tremor occurs in Japan at least every five minutes, and each year there are up to 2,000 quakes that can be felt by local residents. The average is between 4 and 5 magnitude that is considered “normal” (2.5 to 5.4 is often felt, but only causes minor damage).

On March 11, 2011, an earthquake measuring 9 on Richter scale shook northeastern Japan, unleashing a savage tsunami. The tsunami caused nuclear accidents, primarily the level 7 meltdowns at three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex, and the associated evacuation zones affecting hundreds of thousands of residents. The damage was massive!

Satoshi Toyoshima, Assistant Graphics Editor from the Sankei Shimbun (Tokyo, Japan) produced a full coverage graphics about the reconstruction progress after 6 years from this event. In a special interview for snd.org he explains about the execution involved to create this project.


SND: What was the main goal of this project?

Toyoshima: The main purpose of this project is to reflect upon the 6th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake in terms of recovery and reconstruction progress in different perspectives. This infographic is heavily data-driven and the content ranges from infrastructure status to industry’s recovery. I was trying to visualize the data as simple as possible. I chose a minimal color palette so that an entire graphic is easy on the eyes. I tried to design a whole package as if it were a study tool for readers and let them re-recognize the significance of disasters.



SND: How long did it take for you to finish the project?

Toyoshima: The initial planning meeting with a project editor was held two weeks before the publishing date, March 11, 2017.  Then, it took about a week to assemble all data needed before I started working on the project. I spent a total of 30 working hours including copy editing process.



SND: Did you require any assistance from reporters?

Toyoshima: We usually work closely with a reporter when a big project is planned. The benefit of working with a non-graphic, verbal people is that you have an opportunity to get a good feedback whether or not the graphic makes sense.  Also there are more opportunities to request additional resources in order to fulfill the visual contents.



SND: How many designers are involved to work on this project?

Toyoshima: This infographic is done by myself.



SND: What programs were used to produce it?

Toyoshima: We use Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop in Windows platform. We switched to Win system from Mac when the newsroom adopted a new editing system in 2010.

Satoshi Toyoshima is an assistant graphics editor with The Sankei Shimbun (circ. 1.6 million) in Tokyo.  He started his professional career as infographics artist with The Detroit News in 1996 right after he finished his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.  He has worked with USA TODAY, Gannett News Service, Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader and the Columbia (Mo.) Missourian during his graduate study. His works have been recognized by SND.


About the earthquake:

Date March 11, 2011; 6 years ago
Origin time 14:46:24 JST (UTC+09:00)
Duration 6 minutes[1]
Magnitude 9.0–9.1 Mw[2]
Depth 29 km (18 mi)
Epicenter 38.322°N 142.369°ECoordinates: 38.322°N 142.369°E
Type Megathrust
Areas affected Japan (shaking, tsunami)
Pacific Rim (tsunami)
Total damage Tsunami wave, flooding, landslides, fires, building and infrastructure damage, nuclear incidents including radiation releases
Source: Wikipedia

About Douglas Okasaki

is 2018 Past President of the Society for News Design


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