Strengths of exaggerated tsunami-originated placenames: Disaster subculture in Sanriku Coast, Japan

Yuzuru Isoda, Akio Muranaka, Go Tanibata, Kazumasa Hanaoka, Junzo Ohmura, Akihiro Tsukamoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Disaster-originated placename is a kind of disaster subculture that is used for a practical purpose of identifying a location while reminding the past disaster experience. They are expected to transmit the risks and knowledge of high-risk low-frequency natural hazards, surviving over time and generations. This paper compares the perceptions to tsunami-originated placenames in local communities having realistic and exaggerated origins in Sanriku Coast, Japan. The reality of tsunami-originated placenames is first assessed by comparing the tsunami run-ups indicated in the origins and that of the tsunami in the Great East Japan Earthquake 2011 using GIS and digital elevation model. Considerable proportions of placenames had exaggerated origins, but the group interviews to local communities revealed that origins indicating unrealistic tsunami run-ups were more believed than that of the more realistic ones. We discuss that accurate hazard information will be discredited if it contradicts to the people's everyday life and the desire for safety, and even imprecise and ambiguous information can survive if it is embedded to a system of local knowledge that consistently explains the various facts in a local area that requires explanation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberijgi8100429
JournalISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Sep 24


  • Digital elevation model
  • Disaster subculture
  • GIS
  • Indigenous knowledge
  • Placenames
  • Risk perception
  • Tsunami
  • Tsunami run-up

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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