10 Years After Tohoku Tsunami Disaster~
Sport - A Symbol of Hope
The restoration of post-disaster areas has not been easy for the residents. During these 10 years, sport events have brought liveliness and hope to their community, giving them motivation and energy to move forward.
[Rugby Town Kamaishi]
Rugby has a long history in Kamaishi City of Iwate Prefecture, beginning from 1959 when Nippon Steel Kamaishi (now Kamaishi Seawaves) was formed. The area suffered great loss during the tsunami. Although it does not have many facilities like other big cities, it was selected as one of the venues for Rugby World Cup in 2019. Kamaishi is the only post-disaster city among the 12 venues of Rugby World Cup.
The Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium which was built for the Rugby World Cup meant a lot for the residents. The stadium is unique as it is surrounded by natural landscape, having an obstructed view of the townscape from the higher seats of the stadium. Mr. Sakuraba Yoshihiko, the general manager of Kamaishi Seawaves who was also a professional rugby player himself, thought that the construction of the stadium and organizing the World Cup gave local residents a goal to pursue. Although there were a lot of obstacles during the preparation for the World Cup, seeing the smile of children on the day of the event, Mr. Sakuraba felt that all the hard work was worth it. The success of Rugby World Cup by such a small underdeveloped town gave them a lot of motivation.
Onagawa is a beautiful town near the coastal area. It was completely devastated due to the tsunami, and its population reduced by 40%. A month after the disaster, the town gathered young minds to design reconstruction plans. In just 10 years, Onagawa successfully regained its beautiful townscape with new elements, possibly the fastest reconstruction among post-disaster areas. It has a shopping district near the coast with cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops, and also a marvellous train station. The town looked so modern and beautiful that I cannot believe this place was reduced to nothing 10 years ago.
Besides fresh and affordable seafood, you can also find unique souvenirs from the town. One of them is Spanish tile, a product inspired by colourful ceramic tiles in Valencia, Spain. It is made with a technique from Spain, using different material from Japanese ceramics such as Aritayaki. These Spanish tiles are glossy and have a colourful surface yet are also durable. Besides popular motifs such as sun, bells and floras, they also made Pikachu and Lapras tiles under the collaboration with Pokemon! If you visit Onagawa, do check out the wall in the shopping district near the coast where there are over 1,300 Spanish tiles decorated over it.
Ichigo means strawberry in Japanese. Ichigo World is a strawberry farm in Yamamoto, started as an effort to produce quality local strawberries with the purpose of helping the revitalisation of Yamamoto city. The tsunami destroyed over 95% of the strawberry plantation in Yamamoto. “If strawberries do not prosper, the town of Yamamoto will not prosper as well,” said Mr. Hashimoto, the co-founder of Ichigo World.
The strawberry produced in the farm is known as “Mouikko”, which literally means “one more”. The farm is managed using ICT technologies, where the conditions such as temperature and carbon dioxide concentration are managed automatically using computer systems to produce the sweetest strawberries. The most expensive ones cost 1,000 yen for each single strawberry!
Ichigo World has an all-you-can-eat strawberry picking session, where visitors can pluck and eat the strawberry fresh from the plant. You will also get free condensed milk! The sweet yet refreshing taste of the juicy strawberries is out of this world.
Sports not only bring people together, it also gives hope to those working hard to make a living. There are many other efforts done by individuals and companies to revive the disaster-stricken areas that we could not cover within 3 articles, but we hope that you will get something out of these articles, whether inspirations in life or travel ideas after the pandemic. Let’s wish them all the best!