Japan Earthquake Survivors Celebrate Traditional Ceremony Amid Wreckage

04/18/2011 06:26 pm ET | Updated Jun 18, 2011

Surrounded by devastation, Japanese earthquake victims are nonetheless carrying on traditions and honoring the dead. Residents in one of the most devastated regions took a break from the ongoing relief efforts to hold a traditional "hanami," or cherry blossom-viewing, celebration.

In the city of Rikuzentakata -- where an estimated one out of every 10 citizens was killed by the disaster -- local performers donned devil masks to partake in traditional dances, while locals drank sake, held barbecues and sang songs to mark the arrival of spring, the AFP is reporting.

One elderly resident said he had initially organized a gathering to mourn the dead, but was persuaded at the last minute to turn it into a hanami party. "People came from other cities to perform their arts and encourage us," Takeshi Kanno, 61, tells the AFP. "They said we would work to rebuild the region together."

View photos of the Rikuzentakata hanami below.

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