I Survived the Japanese Tsunami book, #8

Japanese-style wave, a modern interpretation of Under the Wave off Kanagawa" by Hokusai.

I Survived the Japanese Tsunami: Book by Lauren Tarshis

I Survived the Japanese Tsunami is book #8 in the “I Survived” series, a famous children’s book series by Lauren Tarshis about survival in historic situations.

Hope this guide of lesson plans to I Survived the Japanese Tsunami helps you. It’s a book that connects a lot of elements of literature, history, and geography, and it really comes together with activities like studying about volcanoes, or learning about ancient Roman customs. Also, the book begins with some memorable literary elements – like a heart that turns to mush. There’s movement-filled imagery packed with juicy verbs, and similes that come as fast as a bullet.


How many people died in the 2011 Japanese tsunami?

19,747 people died in the 2011 Japanese tsunami. Another 2,556 people went missing. 6,242 people were injured by the tsunami. Furthermore, there were 228,863 people displaced from their homes – either living in temporary shelters, or people who had permanently moved away from the disaster site.

A six minute earthquake in the east of Japan caused the development of a tsunami. That earthquake was the most powerful earthquake ever in Japan, and one of the top 5 earthquakes ever recorded.

The tsunami, a massive powerful wave and influx of water onto land, led to disruptions in the power supply. With the nuclear power plants needing electricity to cool the water they use, this power shortage led to the meltdown of 3 of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear power plant.


This incident is now known in Japanese as 東日本大震災 which translates to the great earthquake disaster of East Japan.


Has Japan recovered from the tsunami?

Yes, mostly Japan has recovered from the 2011 tsunami. The debris and rubble have been almost entirely cleared.

Cities hit hardest have found ways to rebuild themselves anew, although not exactly like they were before.

This article tells the story of Rikuzentakata, a city that had over 1,700 lives lost in the 2011 natural disaster. With buildings almost all destroyed, the city’s new footprint is smaller than before. Large areas of the city remain undeveloped. The places of Rikuzentakata that got rebuilt were done using techniques to increase the land height, so they are now 20 feet elevated. By building their formerly flat city on this hill, they help keep their residents and buildings safe from future tsunamis.


Summary of I Survived the Japanese Tsunami, 2011




I Survived the Japanese Tsunami Activities

Disclaimer: This website contains affiliate links, which may earn money to the author. Links are provided mostly for ease of use, to assist in locating  books.

Read the book “I Survived the Japanese Tsunami.”

Listen to the audiobook of “I Survived the Japanese Tsunami”. There is an audiobook available for it, lasting 1 hour and 12 minutes. Perfect for a read aloud experience.


Videos and documentaries about the 2011 Japanese Tsunami

Children of the Tsunami, 2012

This is an hour-long film, interviewing children affected by the Fukishima tsunami


Witness: Disaster in Japan, 2011 

This National Geographic documentary is short, 45 minutes, and covers the main aspects of the 2011 Japanese tsunami.


ScienceVolcano lessons for kids

This site dives deep into volcanoes, volcano types, volcanoes through history.



Lesson Plans for I Survived the Japanese Tsunami

I Survived the Japanese Tsunami: vocabulary and literary analysis notes

Cannons   bullets  – page 1






I Survived the Japanese Tsunami characters



Who is the main character in I Survived the Japanese Tsunami? 

Ben is the main character of the book, and he finds support with his brother Henry as well as his mom.


I Survived the Japanese Tsunami map locations

Japan’s location as an island, in the Pacific Rim of volcanic and earthquake activity, makes it a country that experiences significant tsunami activity.


I Survived the Japanese Tsunami related go-along books

Tsunami!, by Kimiko Kajikawa and illustrated by Ed Young

This book predates the 2011 tsunami, having been written in 2009. This fictional story tells of a wealthy villager, who from his view up high can see a wave coming in. How will he alert the villagers down below? In the story, the wealthy villager finds a way to save 400 of his fellow villagers.


This story is fictional, but was based on the 1800s story of Hamaguchi Gohei, a story where the older man felt an earthquake, a small one. Then he saw the waves receding from the beach. Knowing that a tsunami was coming, he thought of how to alert the beach-goers of the village. He set his valuable rice fields on fire to create a distraction. As people ran to the rice fields to put out the fire, they were drawn uphill and away from the open waters when the tsunami came in. A folkhero now, Hamaguchi Gohei was an example of someone who sacrificed his valuables to save the lives of others.

The Hamaguchi Gohei story itself was, much like Paul Revere’s ride, a mixture of truth and fiction. The real person did light the fires in 1854, but that was in a year where tsunamis had happened multiple times in the village – the villagers knew what the fire meant. The importance of this tall tale, stretched beyond historical record, is to remind children of how tsunamis work and how to react when they happen to save the lives of others in the community.

That concludes this collection of lesson plans, summary, and characters from I Survived the Japanese Tsunami by author Lauren Tarshis. Keep yourself updated for more I Survived lesson plans, book summaries, and activities.

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