Lost & Found Project: Family Photos Swept Away by the 2011 Tsunami in East Japan

After the first medical assistance and the search for survivors, the laborious act of cleaning up and reconstruction after the Tsunami of March 11th, 2011, revealed millions of private photographs and family albums among the first objects salvaged from the rubble. These pictures, with no specific goal or instructions, began to be directed to the gymnasium of the elementary school in a town in the region of Tōhoku.

A group of young researchers from the Japan Society for Socio-Information Studies decided to return fragments of lives to their legitimate owners. They began to clean, dry and digitalize this huge mass of photographs, making them available for all those who were trying to rebuild their own identities. In three months, they were able to rebuild 7,600 albums and 13,000 photographs.

These photographs, which piece together an ideal family album, symbolize the deep connection between personal and collective memory which enters the work of the recovery and the conservation of the photographs.

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