The earthquake and tsunami of 2011 caused tremendous damage across a wide area of Eastern Japan.
The nuclear power plant meltdown made the situation even worse.
People around the world were horrified by the aftermath but also inspired by the survivors' quiet courage.
The "FORWARD" documentary series, produced in collaboration with commercial television stations, demonstrates the determination to recover from the devastation.

VOD for this program is no longer available.

VOD Title List

Aired Programs List

#9 Song Bridges Us to the Future  

A singer by the name of Kumiko was in Ishinomaki for a concert when the 2011 disaster occurred. As the tragedy unfolded before her eyes, she struggled to understand her purpose as a performer. The program documents her encounter with the restoration of a piano pulled from the rubble. It also shows her meeting with a Hiroshima nuclear bomb victim whose painful memories remain. These experiences led Kumiko to overcome her doubts and return to the stage, with a new song.

OA DATE : Mar. 9, Mar. 16


#10 Hula Girls
-Holding Sway in Fukushima-

A resort known as "Japan's Hawaii," in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, has reopened after a hiatus of eleven months. Its Hula Girls dance troupe brought their shows and smiles to various disaster-hit regions during that time. Now, the performers are back on their home stage every day, providing evidence of their community's recovery.

OA DATE : Mar. 10, Mar. 25


#11 Resonate, Soul! -Hikamidaiko-

Wadaiko Japanese drums are an important part of the country's traditional performing arts. This program follows a group from Rikuzentakata that specializes in the Hikamidaiko style. The group lost seven of its members in last year's tsunami and was unable to continue its activities. Since then, though, the remaining members have reunited, with the desire to bring some cheer to the disaster-hit Tohoku region.

OA DATE : Mar. 10, Mar. 25


#14 Devoted to Care

The program follows a caregiver and a nurse from abroad who had been working in Japan before the disaster. Despite evacuation notices from their countries' embassies, they chose to stay and continue working with an even greater devotion to their patients.

OA DATE : Mar. 23, Mar. 24, Mar. 30, Mar. 31


#15 Overcoming the Disaster -Tohoku Shinkansen-

Twenty-seven Shinkansen bullet trains were running on the Tohoku line when the earthquake hit on March 11th of last year. All of them stopped safely, without a single casualty. Various facilities and pieces of equipment, however, were severely damaged. Restoration work began quickly and service resumed throughout the line 50 days after the disaster. The program examines the Shinkansen safety technology and the efforts necessary to resume service.

OA DATE : Mar. 23, Mar. 24, Mar. 30, Mar. 31


#16 Never Forget 3/11
-A Photo Book of Encouragement and Gratitude-

Twenty-eight high schools across the country undertook a project to try to restore some smiles after the Great East Japan Earthquake.
In January of this year, more than 2,400 photos of encouragement were bound into a book. The program follows the high school students and their efforts to express support and gratitude through pictures.

OA DATE : Apr. 6, Apr. 11, Apr. 12


#17 On Edge at Home

For 35 years, Shima Company has refined its technology for recycling motor vehicles.
The situation in Fukushima, however, put the company in dire straits.
Its facilities are located just 500 meters outside the 20 km exclusion zone around the nuclear plant. After only a month's evacuation though, staff members returned to get back to business.
A high school student also decided to stay in the city and work for the company. The program documents the efforts of people struggling to restore their hometown.

OA DATE : Apr. 13, Apr. 14, Apr. 18, Apr. 19


#18 Keeping People Connected
The Kamaishi Shimbun

The city of Kamaishi in Iwate Prefecture suffered catastrophic damages in last year's tsunami. Many people lost their homes and were dispersed to evacuation centers.
As connections to their hometown weakened, they had difficulty gathering the information they needed for everyday life. A newspaper filled the void. Employees of a local paper started the new publication after losing their jobs to the disaster. It's since become an essential part of the extended community. The program follows the reporters and their commitment to giving readers news they can use.

OA DATE : Apr. 20, Apr. 25, Apr. 26


#19 Deep Turns

Soon after Paul Vanderheiden moved to Misawa with his wife, a dentist in the U.S. Air Force, he was drawn to the Hakkoda Mountains. He formed close ties with residents, who shared his love for snowboarding on backcountry powder. Vanderheiden started a tour to help others safely enjoy the backcountry.
However, the events of March 11th of last year changed the lives of everyone in the Tohoku region. Paul's deep connection to the mountains and his family's bonds with the people there led them to stay in Tohoku and move forward there.

OA DATE : Apr. 27, May 2, May 3


#25 Snapshots: Capturing Hometown Life

Photographer Mayumi Suzuki barely recognized her hometown of Onagawa, after it was struck by a 20-meter tsunami last year. She returned to find little left of her family's house, which also served as the community's photo studio. Her father had run the studio for years, but both he and her mother have not been seen since the disaster.
Mayumi had been based elsewhere in Japan. The devastation to the place she grew up, though, convinced her that she was needed where she had started.
The program follows her over the course of a year, as she takes over the studio and documents the town's transformation by shooting portraits of residents who decided to stay.

OA DATE : May 30, May 31, Jun. 6, Jun. 7


#26 Best Hope: Community Ties

Nagahora village is a small fishing village in Iwate Prefecture. In the aftermath of last year's disaster, the villagers' strong, time-honored bonds with each other made survival possible. The next step toward recovery is to determine where they will live after vacating temporary housing.
The government is considering mass residential projects. However, villagers are concerned that their way of life, and their connections to one another, may be lost. The program shows their commitment to restoring the place they call home.

OA DATE : Jun.8, Jun. 13, Jun. 14


#28 The Threat of Invisible Snow
The Story of a Fukushima Priest

Radiation contamination is an ongoing concern in the city of Fukushima.
A Buddhist priest there is active in decontamination activities. For example, he has allowed temple land to be used for temporary storage of contaminated soil.
The program chronicles his efforts, from Spring through Winter.

OA DATE : Jun. 22, Jun. 27, Jun. 28


#30 Machikoba: Big breakthroughs from small factories

A complex to accommodate small factories opened in Tokyo's Ota Ward in March, overcoming difficulties caused by financial consequences of last year's earthquake. Proponents found a way to work around the problems in order to support the growth of neighborhood-based industry. With 33 rooms, the facility provides space for the development of both traditional and modern technology. The close proximity of the companies to one another facilitates collaboration, creating an environment where they can take on new challenges and find solutions.

OA DATE : Jul. 13, Jul. 18, Jul. 19


#31 Cultivating a Recovery

Sendai Tomato Farm is a plastic greenhouse farm in the city of Sendai, Miyagi prefecture. A restaurant chain company built the farm as a contribution to the recovery of the area after being severely damaged by the tsunami of last year. 11 young local farmers are now working at the farm and will train to acquire a new tomato cultivation technique in the next two years.
The program follows their passion in growing tomatoes and their commitment to recovery and progress.

OA DATE : Jul. 20, Jul. 25, Jul. 26


#32 Glamour Meets Gills

Fashion model Rai splits her time between Tokyo and the city of Kamaishi. Before March 11th of last year, she had been cultivating her own brand of oysters there, with the goal of making fish and fishing more appealing to young people. However, the disaster wiped out the oyster farm. She now is working with local fishermen to resume oyster cultivation and help restore Kamaishi's recovery.

OA DATE : Jul. 27, Aug. 1, Aug. 2


#33 Not the Last Straw:
Restoring Japan's Reed Fields

Straw-thatched roofs are emblems of traditional architecture in Japan. The largest river in Tohoku, the Kitakami River, had been a major production area for a material used to make these roofs. However, the tsunami swept away almost 70% of the Common Reed nurtured along the river. Straw-thatched roof craftsmen are working to restore the fields.

OA DATE : Aug. 3, Aug. 8, Aug. 9


#34 Yu: A Gift of Life

Nine months after the disaster in Tohoku, Yu gazed at a picture left by her grandfather, a drawing of the sea of Kesennuma. Several months later, winter and spring had turned to summer. And yet, the restoration of the community had made very little progress. The slow pace only increased the 12-year-old girl's hope for revival of the once lively area. The program follows her growth and the endeavors of others to restore the place they call home.

OA DATE : Aug. 10, Aug. 15, Aug. 16


#35 Never Give Up!
Children's Videos of Hope

A year and a half since the catastrophe in Japan, people are still coming to terms with the upheaval and loss of life. The program shows video messages created by children from disaster-stricken areas.
12 year-old Tetsuya lost his grandfather. He talks about the beauty of nature in his hometown.
11 year-old Takato describes the happiness of reuniting with family members.
11 year-old Yuka from Fukushima wishes for recovery and overcoming the threat of radiation.
7 year-old Miki sings away the grief of losing her home and sends a comforting message: "Smile! You're not alone in this struggle."

OA DATE : Aug. 17, Aug. 22, Aug. 23


#36 Safe and Sweet
Yamagata Cherries Bring Facts to Market

Around 70% of cherries produced in Japan come from Yamagata Prefecture. However, the area has struggled to overcome an image problem caused by last year's nuclear meltdown in Fukushima.
The program follows the continuous hard work of farmers to grow high-quality fruit and the efforts of Yamagata's governor to promote the prefecture's produce.

OA DATE : Aug. 24, Aug. 29, Aug. 30


#37 Lustrous Silk Again

Fukushima Prefecture's Kawamata is known as the "Town of Silk" for its production of the thin and light fabric. This silk has been used for the lining of kimono since the Edo era, several centuries ago. Its export business began to flourish in the Meiji era, starting in 1868.
However, in more recent years, the prominence of Kawamata silk has declined, in part because it has to compete with low-priced silk produced overseas. Its production area also suffered in last year's disaster.
Eita Saito has committed himself to turning out the world's thinnest silk fabric by using exclusive technology.
His company has recently been showing its wares at a trade show abroad.

OA DATE : Aug. 31, Sep. 5, Sep. 6


#38 A Tale of Two Cities
Kobe Shows Kesennuma the Way

A representative of a shopping area in disaster-hit Kesennuma visited Kobe for insights as to how his community might recover. Kobe also experienced a massive earthquake, in 1995. People there shared their stories of rebuilding as well as advice, such as the importance of conducting business face-to-face. As an outgrowth of the visit, a collaboration developed involving Kesennuma's Murasaki Shrine Pumpkin Festival and a product from Kobe's leather industry, the "Pumpkin Keychain." The program documents the bond between the cities and their efforts to promote Kesennuma to visitors as a step toward recovery.

OA DATE : Sep. 7, Sep. 12, Sep. 13


#39 Taking the Initiative
The Housewives of Fukushima

Conditions have settled somewhat in the 18 months since the disaster. Residents have opted to take the initiative in restoring their communities. In Fukushima, this involves applying information they have learned to battle radiation contamination. The program follows two housewives as they work toward reestablishing their lives to what they were before the nuclear meltdown.

OA DATE : Sep. 21, Sep. 26, Sep. 27


#40 Planting the Seeds of a Comeback

Farmers are among those who have suffered from the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. They've struggled to convince consumers to buy Fukushima peaches, for example, even though the produce has met safety standards. The program documents the efforts of those in the peach business to make sure their fruit is both safe and delicious.

OA DATE : Sep. 28, Oct. 3, Oct. 4


#41 Serving Up Smiles

Residents of Ishinomaki once again can enjoy one of Japan's favorite fast foods, takoyaki octopus balls. A company selling the snack opened a shop in a temporary food court and followed up with another along the coast. The program follows the staff's commitment to serving up smiles at the disaster-hit city.

OA DATE :Oct. 5, Oct. 10, Oct. 11


#42 Making Fields Flourish Again

A company in Gifu prefecture has developed a machine that's helping with the recovery of agriculture in Japan's northeast. The device produces coal packed with minerals. Three youngsters in Kesennuma used the coal to grow tomatoes and rice on salt-polluted soil. The program documents the challenges they faced in achieving a successful harvest.

OA DATE : Oct. 12, Oct. 17, Oct. 18