From a very moving group show last fall at Intersection for the Arts that included artists' responses to the above photos:
After the 2011 Tohoku earthquake hit, a massive tsunami swept away houses, and everything that was inside them. As the search for survivors ended and attention turned to the clean up mission, Self-Defense forces, firemen, and policemen who were in Tohoku to help survivors began to pick up photos they found in the mud, and to store them in an elementary school gymnasium. Two months after the earthquake hit, a group called the “Memory Salvage Project” began to sort out the more than 750,000 photos and prepare them for return to their owners. The images were cleaned and digitized by volunteers who came from Tokyo and other parts of Japan. The photographs you see here are part of photos recovered from the city of Yamomoto.