Feel the Japanese spirit through reconstruction tourism
All About Japan English Site Editor
Wendell Terrel Harrison
Everyone throughout the world is aware of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami disaster, but many probably do not know what happened afterwards to those areas struck by the disaster. One thing I would recommend to the world is to pay attention not only to the remarkable restoration of the area, but also to the natural beauty that Tohoku has to offer. A disaster prevention tour covering the importance of earthquake disaster measures is available to those using the Sanriku Railway.
Along with being able to partake in important lessons, visitors can also view the breathtaking beautiful coastline from the train car windows. Through these valuable ways, not only will this show the world the strength of the people of Tohoku standing back up from the earthquake disaster with unhindered spirits, but will also teach the world that those areas are safer than ever before and that the people are ready to welcome those who visit the area with open arms.
"Michinoku Shiokaze Trail,” which connects the Pacific Ocean coastline between Hachinohe in Aomori Prefecture and Soma in Fukushima Prefecture. One of the model courses, “Aomori Prefecture Hachinohe Route,” travels along the scenic Tanesashi Coast which continues from JR Hachinohe Same Station to Okuki Station. From the undulating reefs to the white sandy beaches dotted with pine trees, you can enjoy a dynamic scenic view of the sea that changes every time you walk it.
|Location||Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture|
|Phone||022-722-2874 (National Parks Section, Tohoku Regional Environment Office)|
A museum which focuses on the Great East Japan Earthquake disaster and tsunami. In addition to being able to hear storytellers recount their experiences of the disaster while observing footage of the tsunami, you can learn about the dreadful power of tsunamis while viewing photographs of Ofunato before and after the disaster in the panel exhibition corner. Reservations are taken up to 3 days in advance. The museum plans to move in front of the JR Ofunato Station in April of 2018.
|Location||5-1 Miyano, Akasakicho, Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture|
|Hours open to visitors||10AM-3:30PM|
|fee||Adults: 500 yen|
The Takata-matsubara Pine Grove which is said to have contained approximately 70,000 pine trees was washed away by the giant tsunami which occurred during the Great East Japan Earthquake disaster, however one tree miraculously remained, and is now called the “Kiseki-no-Ipponmatu” or the“ Miracle Pine.” It died from the effects of the ocean water later and it is now preserved as a monument to teach later generations of the disastrous earthquake. It is lit up from sunset to 9PM every day.
|Location||176-1 Sumamori Kesencho, Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture|
|Phone||0192-54-2111 (Rikuzentakata Commerce, Industry, and Tourism Division)|
|Hours open to visitors||From 5PM(6PM from June to August) to 8AM the next day, the gates are locked so the Miracle Pine cannot be reached.|
|fee||Free to tour|
Tanohata, a town and harbor which was swallowed up by the tsunami on March 11, 2011. From the shelters supported through the bonds of people and aid, the hardships of living in temporary housing to the path to reconstructing homes, storytellers talk about the lessons they learned and the experiences they went through all while mourning the many victims and damage that occurred. (Reservations are required and can be made up until a day in advance. Consultation on the day of is also available.)
|Location||142-3 Tsukue, Tanohata, Shimohei District, Iwate Prefecture|
|Phone||0194-37-1211 (Experience Village Tanohata Network)|
|Hours open to visitors||9AM to 5PM *Depends on season|
|fee||From 1,500 yen per person *Price varies based on number of people|
In April of 2014, Sanriku Railways, which was struck by the Great East Japan Earthquake, reopened all its lines as a symbol of restoration of the disaster-stricken areas. The “Disaster Education Train” provides a form of “study tourism” to learn about disaster prevention where passengers can see, hear, and experience the state of the area along the railway. While on the train passengers will hear about the conditions of the earthquake from Sanriku Railway employees or people who live along the railway line while the train is moving or temporarily stopping in areas where one can see the current situation of the disaster. (Reservations required.)
|Location||Kuji, Iwate Prefecture/Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture|
|Phone||0194-52-3411 (Between Tanohata and Kuji: Kita-Rias Line Operations Department)|
0192-27-9669 (Between Sakari and Kamaishi: Minami-Rias Line Operations Department)
|Hours open to visitors||Must call in advance. Operation days and times decided by reservation|
|fee||Group from outside of Iwate Prefecture: 43,000 yen for 1 carriage of normal train, 51,400 yen for 1 carriage of event train|
This is a one hour course where a guide will take participants up to the breakwater structure, and learn about the records and lessons of the disaster in Taro district. Valuable footage, taken from the sixth floor of the Taro Kanko Hotel which was struck all the way up to the fourth floor by the tsunami that exceeded a height of 17m, shows the incredibly destructive power of the tsunami. There is also a two hour course where participants will walk along the evacuation route and view the unusually shaped Sanoiwa Rock. (Reservation required.)
|Location||Taro, Miyako, Iwate Prefecture （Meet at Taro Station,Sanriku Railways Kita-Rias Line）|
|Phone||0193-77-3305 (Miyako Tourism Cultural Exchange Association)|
|Hours open to visitors||9AM to 4:30PM *Depends on season|
|fee||4,000 yen per guide for 1 hour, 10,000 yen for 2 hours (accepting from 1 person)|
Located near Kamaishi Nebama Coast and famous as a Japanese-style inn where guests can enjoy the harvest from the sea of Sanriku. It was damaged up to the second floor by the Great East Japan Earthquake, however it reopened for business 10 months later. The proprietress who miraculously survived despite being struck by the tsunami talks to patrons everyday about her experiences, lessons, and hopes for Kamaishi.
|Location||Dai 20 Chiwari 93-18 Unosumai, Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture|
|fee||1 night, 2 meals: 15,000 yen (excludes tax)|
Minamisanriku, a town where homes were damaged by the tsunami. The storytelling bus tour looks at the after-effects of that tsunami and aims to increase awareness and help prevent people from forgetting the lessons learned from the earthquake. The bus tour lasts about 60 minutes and passengers can also observes those areas affected by floods. Local guides on board talk about their own personal experiences and the lessons they learned from the earthquake disaster. English and Chinese (Traditional) guide books are also available. Reservations are required.
|Location||Various locations in Minamisanriku, Motoyoshi District, Miyagi Prefecture|
|Phone||0226-47-2550 (Minamisanriku Tourism Association)|
|Hours open to visitors||Possible operating times: 8:30AM-5PM (reception closes at 3PM during winter)|
|fee||10,800 yen for up to 20 persons per bus (an extra charge of 540 yen for each person beyond 20 persons)|
Local volunteers talk about the conditions at the time and what they learned from the disaster while showing those areas which were heavily damaged by the earthquake. A course is available where guides join participants on the bus, giving a tour while observing the damage-stricken areas from the window and a walking course where participants will set off from JR Ishinomaki Station. Reservations are required (approximately 1 month in advance).
|Location||Various locations in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture|
|Phone||0225-93-6448 (Ishinomaki Tourist Association)|
|fee||Bus course: 1.5 hours/3,000 yen, Walking course: 1 to 1.5 hours/from 3,000 yen (reservation required about 1 month in advance)|
Yuriage, an area located in Natori which was seriously damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Here participants can see the records of the earthquake and tsunami damage as well as the areas carrying out reconstruction. With the “Yuriage-Shinsai-wo-Tsutaeru-Kai,” a group which passes on the stories of the earthquake in Yuriage, you can make a reservation with a volunteer guide who will talk you about the damage (due to the continuous reconstruction, the places viewed may change).
|Location||Various locations in Yuriage, Natori, Miyagi Prefecture|
|Phone||022-382-6526 (Natori Tourism Association *Information regarding tours available)|
|Hours for tour||*Please call. *Send reservation by e-mail or fax for guide after filling out form on the “Yuriage-Shinsai-wo-Tsutaeru-Kai” official website.|
|Closed||Saturdays, Sundays, national holidays|
|fee||5,000 yen for a group on one bus (10 or more people, 1 guide per bus, participants provide bus)|
http://yuriage1.blog.fc2.com/ (Yuriage earthquake disaster meet up group) |
http://www.kankou.natori.miyagi.jp/hisaichi (Natori Tourism Association disaster-stricken area tour information)
In addition to being a location to learn about the Great East Japan Earthquake, it also acts as an entrance to the eastern coastal region of Sendai which was hit hard by the tsunami. In addition to permanent exhibits that teach visitors about the damage inflicted by the earthquake and the current state of restoration to the area, exhibits which demonstrate the damage through how those in the region live and their memories, there are also workshops where you can have a chance to discuss the disaster caused by the earthquake as well as field tours where participants will visit the surrounding areas.
|Location||85-4 Kutsugata Arai, Wakabayashi Ward, Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture|
|Hours open to visitors||10AM-5PM|
|Closed||Monday (if Monday is a national holiday, then Tuesday) and following day of national holiday except Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays|
|fee||Free to tour|
Arahama Elementary School, the site which children, teaching staff and local residents fled to at the time of the earthquake and was hit by the tsunami up to the 2nd floor was reopened as a remnant of the earthquake disaster. Photographs and footage are displayed inside the school which show the progress of events from the time the earthquake occurred, evacuation, when the tsunami hit, to the time of rescue, demonstrating the terrible power and threat of the tsunami. Even now, visitors can view the restoration and reconstruction taking place from the roof of the school.
|Location||32-1 Shinborihata, Arahama, Wakabayashi Ward, Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture|
|Phone||022-355-8517 (Management office)|
|Hours open to visitors||10AM-4PM|
|Closed||Monday, 2nd and 4th Thursday (if those days are national holidays, then next day) (and day following national holidays excluding Saturdays, Sundays, national holidays)|
Ohama, Haragama, and Isobe, located in the City of Soma, were heavily damaged by the tsunami caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake. This facility includes exhibits such as scenes from the various regions prior to the earthquake, photographs of traditional rituals, and documented footage taken immediately after the earthquake struck. As well as showing the original landscape of 3 areas both inside and outside, it is considered to be a support for the hearts of those families who have lost loved ones and message to future generations of the threat of earthquakes and the lessons learned from it.
|Location||270 Otsu Haragama, Soma, Fukushima Prefecture (inside Kasaiwa Park)|
|Hours open to visitors||9AM-5PM|