Japan had been waiting decades for "the big one" to hit, an earthquake powerful enough to devastate the country.
Emergency services and the public were drilled in how to respond when the earth moved; thousands of kilometers of sea walls were built to protect the coast from tsunamis, the deadly after-effects of quakes out at sea.
But when the earthquake came on March 11, few would have predicted the devastation it caused.
The magnitude 9.0 quake, unleashed a tsunami so powerful, it tore through Japan's defenses as though they were not there. The surge turned towns and cities into matchwood, killed thousands of people and caused a still-to-be resolved nuclear crisis.
Among the communities hit was the small port city of Miyako. In the days after the disaster its surviving citizens somehow had to carry on with their lives. This is their story.
Source: Al Jazeera