Natural disasters are both Japan’s inherent characteristic and a stigma caused by its geographical location. The history of the country consists of a long series of cataclysms occurring at regular intervals, all of which have shaped Japan and its inhabitants: “Centuries of natural disasters have made the Japanese into what they are today: an obedient, resilient and disciplined nation that obeys strict social rules of organisation because it is considered necessary,” writes Tiziano Terzani, an Italian reporter, journalist and long-time Asian correspondent of Der Spiegel.

Designated by local authorities, the evacuation areas become places outside time whose function gains importance and significance in the moment of danger. There is a peculiar dualism in them – while promising physical safety, they seem to cause psychological anxiety that often leads to trauma. A sense of detachment from the threat is combined with a powerful fear of losing the loved ones, home, previous life. In the face of the raging natural element, a designated evacuation area becomes the bridgehead of the human order. The striving to maintain order is also crucial when resettling an area ravaged by a cataclysm, when chaos is being replaced by the need to organise even the simplest things and objects: “Compared with space, place can be thought of as a centre and meanings or a space that has become humanised,” mentions Yi-Fu Tuan, one of the precursors of humanistic geography, in his treatise Space and Place.

Exactly a decade after the events in the Tōhoku region in 2011 – the earthquake, the devastating tsunami and the explosion at the Fukushima power plant, Bartosz Hołoszkiewicz evokes the trauma of those days and takes us to a safe place, to a designated evacuation area.