The Kamaishi Miracle– Bob Stilger’s Notes from Japan #43 ~ December 10th

Posted by Bob Stilger on December 9, 2012

You’ll find a lot of references if you Google “The Kamaishi Miracle,” so I’ll keep this really short.  It’s just an important story to remember.

Kamaishi is a costal town in Iwate Prefecture.  The most northern province affected by last year’s triple disaster.  Fewer school children died there than in other coastal towns. Why?

The teachers in Kamaishi decided that they ways in which the government taught about disaster preparedness wasn’t good enough.  They came up with their own approach — which itself is a bit of a miracle.  They drilled students with three principles and one teaching from ancient wisdom.  Simple.  Direct.  Easily remembered.

The principles were:

  • Don’t make any assumptions
  • Do your best
  • Go as quickly as you can

The ancient wisdom was don’t look for your family.

Don’t make any assumptions means among other things, don’t believe what you hear: use your own eyes and senses.  Do your best is a reminder to keep going.  Children made their way up away from the ocean with each other.  Pausing to look and to talk with each other about whether they had gone far enough.  Three times they paused, and then kept going.  And they went quickly.

The ancient wisdom is a hard one.  What’s been learned over centuries is that people die because they go looking for their family.  What’s essential is that everyone trust that everyone else will follow the three principles as well

Principles and ancient wisdom help us organize to do what’s needed when we confront any situation.  They sure helped in Kamaishi!

And here is a recent  YouTube Video  with the story