In Kamaishi, a city in the Tōhoku region of Japan, the aging of the population and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami changed people's relationships to time and place. For many people, “time stopped” when disaster struck. That stoppage compounded a weakening of the appeal of the future that had come with deindustrialization. Despite people's lack of expectations for the future, “hope,” which is most frequently conceptualized as an orientation toward a not‐yet, was a recurring theme there. This article argues that the form of hope most prevalent among people who lost their homes in the 2011 disasters relied on repetition and the creation of places of refuge. In those particular places, people could use the stoppage of time to their advantage by avoiding the pain of the recent past and the foreseeable future. Ironically, reporters and academics have raised the activities of people in Kamaishi as an example of hope for Japan's future. That is, people closer to suffering focused on place‐based hope, whereas people at a distance transformed the struggle to create those places into a vision of the future, which sometimes made it difficult for survivors’ hope to endure.