On March 11, 2011, a 9.1 magnitude earthquake shook Japan off the Pacific coast of Tohoku, triggering a massive tsunami which devastated the Japanese mainland and caused meltdowns in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex. The disaster eventually resulted in nearly 22,000 dead and injured, and delivered such a terrible blow to the Tohoku region that it is still struggling to recover to this day.

Yahoo! Japan's banner

On the eighth anniversary year of the Great East Japan Earthquake, otherwise known as "3.11," Yahoo! Japan created a giant banner running nearly the entire length of a building facade in the famous scramble crossing in front of Shibuya Station. The banner only contains a text message but has a very noticeable red stripe running through one line at a height of about six floors from ground level.

© grape Japan

This is what the ad says:

March 11th, 2011.
Even though eight years have passed, this day continues to have a special meaning for us. The memory of the Great East Japan Earthquake. We can't let it end on sadness alone. We must turn experience into learning and prepare ourselves. The height of the tsunami recorded in Ofunato City, Iwate Prefecture, was 16.7 meters [54'9 3/8"].
If it had struck Shibuya it would have reached this height.
Even though the Heisei Era is ending and we're moving into the next era, let us never forget that day.This is Yahoo! {Japan}'s wish.

Yahoo! Japan banner in Shibuya, Tokyo

It's an important message but is it effective in reaching the multitudes going in and out of Shibuya Station every day?

What do passers-by think

To get a more accurate picture, our Japanese writer interviewed people at the scramble crossing about the banner.

The opinions of two teenage girls were particularly noteworthy. It was apparently their first time visiting Shibuya:

Had you seen this Yahoo! Japan ad before online?

"No, this is our first time seeing it."

Do you think the banner is easy to notice here in front of Shibuya Station?

"I could see a lot of text written, so it made me wonder what it was all about."

© grape Japan

What do you think about the ad?

"I think your eyes are drawn to the red line, so it's easy to understand. It reminds me of the actual scene of the tsunami {I saw on TV} and the thought of it makes me shiver."

"The banner is just at the spot where you'd look up, which creates a real image in my mind of the tsunami attacking the city, and that's scary!"

Although not everyone notices it, it would seem that the banner is effective in reminding people of the scale of the tsunami and the devastation it caused.

However, as the message suggests, it's not enough to {remember the tragedy and} wallow in sadness. We must learn from this experience by being better prepared for the future.

If you live in the Tokyo area or plan to visit, you can access an English version of Tokyo Metropolitan Government's "Disaster Preparedness Guide" here.

By - Ben K.