Saving the Mill

Saving the Mill

The amazing recovery of one of Japan’s largest paper mills following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami

Sasa Ryoko
Translated by Tony Gonzalez

Japan Library series
Japan Publishing Industry Foundation for Culture

Social Sciences

ISBN 9784916055477
210 mm x 148 mm / 212 pp. / March 2015

When Machine 8 goes down, the Japanese publishing industry goes down with it.

On March 11, 2011, one of the largest earthquakes in human history struck offshore of northeast Japan, triggering a massive tsunami that devastated surrounding coastal areas. One of the many victims of this epic disaster was Nippon Paper Industries’ Ishinomaki Paper Mill, which was so flooded and covered in debris that it was completely shut down. NPI provided around 40% of the paper used by Japan’s publishing industry and its Ishinomaki mill—home to one of the largest paper machines in the world—was its core production facility. Loss of this plant would have been a devastating blow.

When the factory’s leader Hiromi Kurata announced that the mill would be producing paper again in just six months, few believed him. The city of Ishinomaki still had no power, no gas, and no water. Even finding food and shelter was a challenge for many, and the plant was so covered in debris that large parts were still inaccessible. Even so, the burden of saving their company, their city, and even the Japanese publishing industry had been placed on the shoulders of the mill’s employees. Their story is a monument to the indomitable spirit of the Japanese worker.


SASA Ryoko
After graduating from Waseda University’s School of Law, Ryoko Sasa became a Japanese teacher, and then a nonfiction writer. She is noted for her research of the Kabukicho area of Shinjuku, Tokyo. Based on that experience she wrote Kakekomidera no Gen-san [Gen-san, a Man Who Devoted Himself to an Urban Shelter] in 2011. In 2012, she was awarded Shueisha’s Takeshi Kaiko Award for Nonfiction for her book Enjeru Furaito [Angel Flight] about international funereal repatriation teams.

*information as of time of publication


Japan Library series
Social Science

Japan Publishing Industry Foundation for Culture

ISBN 9784916055477
210 mm x 148 mm / 212 pp. / March 2015

Introduction to the English edition of this book / Prologue / 1. Destruction of the Ishinomaki Plant / 2. Survivors / 3. Decisions / 4. Machine 8 / 5. Passing the Baton / 6. The Baseball Team / 7. The Barkeep’s Tale / 8. Getting the Paper Rolling / 9. The Finals / Epilogue / About the Author



佐々 涼子
1968年生まれ。早稲田大学法学部卒業。日本語教師を経て、ノンフィクションライターに。新宿歌舞伎町で取材を重ね、2011年『たった一人のあなたを救う 駆け込み寺の玄さん』を上梓。2012年『エンジェルフライト 国際霊柩送還士』で第10回集英社・開高健ノンフィクション賞を受賞。


Original Japanese Edition


佐々涼子 著

早川書房 刊