Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, which is Japan's oldest, survived the earthquake but it's spire shook quite a bit; as you can see in this video. I'm not sure what the laughing was about in the background of the clip but the footage is a metaphor for the stability of the Dharma. The temple is dedicated to the Bodhisattva, Guan Yin, (Avalokiteshvara) the Bodhisattva of compassion.
I personally don't believe in the literal existence of the Bodhisattva, but I believe in the archetype and that it can help uplift ourselves, others and give us a feeling of safety. It also gives us the inspiration to help others, which can help alleviate feelings of self-pity, helplessness and depression. That refuge, as represented through the temple, and it's monks, have a role to play in healing the Japanese. The temple (and many others) will provide a welcoming, embracing, compassionate and calming beacon for the many emotionally and physically injured in the aftermath of the quake and tsunami.
The Japanese people will benefit greatly from the Buddhist monks, as they have trained much of their lives to relieve suffering and show others how to do the same. I don't for one minute think that any of this rebuilding and healing will be easy, quick or without obstacles but Japan's Buddhist tradition will serve the people quite well in surviving the deep suffering that comes out of such a life-altering disaster. I have always seen the Japanese as admirably resilient, determined and patient, which will serve them well in the years to come. I believe that a lot of those qualities come from their cultural influence of Buddhist philosophy.
I have read that Buddhism has declined in some communities within Japan, especially amongst the youth. However, I think this tragedy will renew the embrace of Buddha's calm, compassionate and peaceful teachings because disasters often shake us from the modern delusion that materialism is a better way to find fulfillment in this world. When everything you own is lost, your house in rubble and maybe a loved one (or many) dead, material wealth doesn't seem so helpful. It's moments like this sobering event in Japan that remind us what truly matters in our journey in this life.
We need tools that can survive an earthquake, outlast a tsunami and restore peace of mind. The Dharma is a toolbox that we can carry anywhere, at anytime and is specifically geared toward learning how to live in a world of suffering that is full of empty promises of long-term happiness. It is my hope that in this time of need the Japanese (and all of us) will remember how the Dharma helped our ancestors not only survive a world of disasters, sickness and under-development, but thrive in it. May the Japanese people be healed by the soothing words of Buddha. I bow with compassion and love toward you all.
~Peace to all beings~