Recovery of community and of fish farmig in Nagashimizu

Nagashimizu district of Minami-Sanriku-cho, Miyagi prefecture, was one of the worst-hit place by Tsunami. Yet the hard work of residents and the international collaboration brought the significant result to the town: the construction of “Ban-ya” , named after the place which used to function as a temporal accommodation and workshop for local fishermen.

“Nagashimizu Banya” under construction
(C) ArchiAid

For ArchiAid Annual Report 2012, Senhiko Nakatani of Miyagi University wrote:

In March 2012 , the “Nagashizu Banya,”was completed through the efforts of everyone from the Nagashizu villages. Spurring on the recovery of local seaweed farming industry, this joint work involved many specialists to reach fruition. Contributions included pro-bono work from Gensler, and construction materials from the Yamagata-based Shelter Co., Ltd. as well as local support from universities.

This was also the period when the plans for higher-ground villages, proposed by the disaster prevention collective relocation project, engaged in passionate debates between local residents and

The reconstruction of seawalls and national roads are also an important discussion topic for the recovery of industry in the low-lying areas and shores. Since these areas are closely linked to the fishing industry, we actively gathered
opinions and suggestions from local residents as an active part of the design process while also making adjustments to the needs of government authorities. From summer of 2012 , there were debates about the need for another temporary
workspace for fish farming, following the “Nagashizu Banya,”and with the aid of After Images that supports activities in Australia, a new workspace was constructed.

References: For the original article and more images, please go to ArchiAid Annual Report 2012., page 28-29.


Government’s Report on What Was Done So far

The Reconstruction Agency of Japan  published its report on what was done so far. The followings are the essential elements discussed there (translation is mine):

  • Number of evacuees: was 470,000, is 320,000 (159 in evacuation center, the rest in temporary housing)
  • Debris clearing and processing: 46% finished. 34 incinerators will be built to finish it by March, 2014.
  • Infrastructure: Electricity (96% recovered), City/town gas (86% recovered), Liquified Petroleum Gas (95%), Bank branches (85% reopened), Land line phone (99% recovered), Cell phone (99% recovered), Post office branches (91% reopened), Post delivery (100% recovered), Gas stands (all reopened except for 866 which are prohibited from reopening)
  • Construction of public housings: 27% of planned units (5600 out of 21,000 units) stated to be constructed. This number exclude Fukushima.
  • Relocation of towns/neighborhoods: Out of 229 towns/neighborhoods to which the special planning budget was distributed, plans for 188 towns/neighborhoods received the agreement from the Land, Infrastructure, and Transportation Ministry.
  • Farm lands: 38% recovered.
  • Fishing ports: 35% recovered.

PDF in Japanese is here. Its publication coincided with the budget announcement.

Reconstruction Budget for the Coming Fiscal Year Announced

Japanese Reconstruction Agency announced the budget for the reconstruction of Tohoku for the fiscal year of Heisei 25 (:2013). (PDF in Japanese here)

The Reconstruction Agency’s  total budget  is about 31 billion dollars. With budget outside of this agency, the total is about $47 billion.

The breakdown of the agency budget  is as follows (the translation is mine, not official) :

  • Support for the victims: $2 billion
  • Reconstruction of towns:$18 billion
  • Industry support & Job creation:$3.3 billion
  • Recovery from the disaster due to the nuclear power generation failure: $7.8 billion

The breakdown of outside of the agency budget  is:

  • Special tax allocation: $6.5 billion
  • Reserve fund to accelerate the reconstruction and to revitalize Fukushima:  $6.3 billion
  • Nation-wide effort for the disaster prevention: $1.3 billion

It should be  very interesting to compare the above with what were accomplished. The agency also has published its report on what was done so far, and I will blog about it soon.


Three-storied Containar Temporary Hounsing in Mekawa

The very first three-storied temporary housings were constructed in Mekawa, Miyagi, in October, 2012.  Its real size model is now in exhibit at Art Tower Mito from March 2nd to May 12th, 2013.

When I visited Tohoku last summer, I saw groups of temporary housings built in parks and athletic fields often in high density.

Typical temporary housing in Tohoku
(C) Penguin Environmental Design

Space between lines of townhouses is very narrow. I suspected that residents do not have much sun shine or breeze in that condition. Read the rest of this entry »

Story of a failed nuclear power plant told by…Cats?

In Japan, the country of “Kawaii (:Cute)” , people decided to discuss the difficult issue of how to deal with the failed nuclear power plant by borrowing the voices of cats and creating a movie out of it.

The animation film “Nekomachitta (: ‘cats town’ in Japanese twisted by Italian-like pronunciation)”  has just completed its production. Some independent screenings started in Tokyo in January, 2013. (The film is in Japanese. English subtitle version is on the way.)

YouTube Preview Image

Read the rest of this entry »

Young Stundents Participate to the School Rebuilding Workshop

Series of design workshops were conducted in Ogastu region of Ishinomaki City for junior high school students whose schools were hit by tsunami.

Students at the workshop
(C) ArchiAid

In Ogatsu, two elementary schools (1st to 6th grade) and one junior high schools (7th to 9th grade) were completely destroyed.  Right now a plan is being developed for one combined (:1st to 9th grade) school in the city. It is hoped that a school building that can become a part of the unique landscape of Ogatsu will be materialized.

Workshops were conducted to find the design and space that are uniquely Ogatsu, and to help students start having some attachment to this otherwise unfamiliar new school. The workshop method was developed on the belief in which the design in personal scale, such as that of desk and chair, can be connected and developed into the design of classrooms, buildings, and environment.

Read the rest of this entry »

Remembering through Art work- Installation by Hiroshi Naito

An exhibition by architect, Hiroshi Naito, to remember the Tohoku Great Earthquake was held from October, 2012, to January 14, 2013, at Kyoto University of Art and Design. The art work was installation of 18,800 glass pieces, each representing a life of lost victim. They cover 5.4 m by 5.4 m area. Naito calls it “a Place for Prayer”(exhibition photos here).

After many visits to Tohoku as an architect, Naito still felt himself being an “outsider”, which made him want to “physically inscribe the number of victims in his body”. So, he started to draw dots as many as the number of  victims. It took him three days. At this exhibition , he wanted to share with others the physical feeling of drawing endless number of dots by replacing them with glass pieces.


References used for this article: Kyoto University of Art and Design Entrance Lounge web site, “Hiroshi Naito: 18800 pieces 2012.6.13″ exhibition official facebook site, Nikkei Kenplatz  “内藤廣、震災「祈りの場」と復興に向けた「伝承」2011/1/10


Construction of the “Minimum House” started

The construction of Itakura no Ie (:Itakura House) started this November.

Itakura House under construction  (C) ArchiAid

Itakura House is going to be the first built example, or a model house, of the “Minimum House for the Revitalization of Oshika Peninshula”. The minimum houses are small, about 500 sqft for a family of two and 800 sqft for that of four. The idea is to build small now, and let it grow later.

Building series of small houses, instead of a few multiple complex, also helps preserving the landscape of this old fisherman’s village.  The idea has been conceived and developed by workshops at Tokyo Institute of Technology which are lead by Yoshiharu Tsukamoto. (Japanese brochure with drawings is here.)

After the trial with this Itakura House, they hope to start building more houses in 2014. For questions, please e-mail to

Reconstruct Fisherman’s Villages

A book on Momonoura PJ and others was published in March, 2012.: “Hama kara Hajimeru Fukkou Keikaku” (C) ArchiAid

During the PechaKucha presentation (link here) about which I wrote in my last update, Shoko Fukuya also presented the process of planning at Momono-ura.


Monono-ura is a small  village on Oshika Peninsula in Miyagi prefecture. The peninsula has many coves, each of which houses a fisherman’s village such as Momono-ura. These coves were heavily affected by Tsunami due to their geographical forms. As you see in the presentation slides, some villages were almost erased by Tsunami.

During the summer of 2011, and again in 2012, over 100 students of architecture gathered to the peninsula to participate in the 5-days workshop. They are from 15 universities all over Japan: from Tohoku, Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe.

Students first built the scale models of villages, so that villagers as well as students and professionals could see and understand the geographical conditions. Students also lived in the villages and helped the villagers in harvesting seaweeds. Then they asked the desires and opinions of villagers, before they came up with the reconstruction plans. Its process and results were published in a special edition of Detail in March, 2012.

What is ArchiAid?

In Tokyo, on November 22, there was a special PechaKucha X ArchiAid event.  Shoko Fukuya, an architect who teaches at Tohoku Institute of Technology, made a presentation on 1) What is ArchiAid?, and 2) Reconstruction projects at Momono-ura. ( link to presentation here : Slides are in JP/Eng, and audio is in JP only.)

What is ArchiAid? Let me summarize what she said:

A) It is a network and a platform, not an rigid organization, for architects who would like to contribute to the reconstruction. It now has 270 “supporters” (;members) , and the number is growing. (Penguin Environmental Design, which is hosting this blog and related LinkedIn group, is one of its supporters.)

B) It has three goals: 1) Support the local communities, 2) Educate the young people who are willing to work, so that they can also contribute, 3) Archive the reconstruction efforts.

C) It started very casually 5 days after the disaster, in Tokyo which was suffering from power-outage, by architects from different parts of Japan. The very first question that they posited was what architects can do in such a disaster.