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Sanriku Coastal Research (7th students design workshop)


It counted the seventh time of student design workshop “Summer Studio” sponsored by the Japanese Institute of Landscape Architecture, Kanto brunch. Following last year, as one of the tutors to support students, I had enthusiastic discussions with students.

This year’s summer studio, titled “disastrous earthquake, scale, and time; Emerging Ground” based on the experience of last earthquake, aimed to give images for new grounds on each urban configuration in five historically and geologically different areas, and to show where to head to and face on at the aftermath of the earthquake rated millennia probability, I was responsible for rias coast in the five subject areas and, along with students, surveyed at Sanriku shoreline in Iwate Prefecture after five months from the quake.

At the day of the survey, rendezvous with members already entering the site at Tono Station famous of producing horses, we headed to Otsuti Town where the first survey took place among the mountains of Kitakami with blue sky above. On the way to the sea from Otsuti Town, time has passed so gently on villages scattered along the river, and they were too beautiful to have any connection with devastated scenes observed in front of us later on.

Then, a dozen minutes later, it came a moment of silence for us. Downtown of Otsuti Town, where more than 10% population had become either missing or dead, jumped into our eyes. Sense of loss one can easily imagine without knowing how the town used to be.
A deserted townscape.
Sounds of operating heavy machineries echoing throughout the town in dead silence
Strange acrid smell blown by wind occasionally.
That was the moment to ensure that “we got to feel it by ourselves, not through media.”

After we went around the deconstructed downtown of Otsuti town, we got to Kamaishi City and Yamada Town adjoin to. As we surveyed several towns, which earthquake hit, we could realize that the condition and severity of earthquake damage on each town at Sanriku Coast are varied. It is impossible to determine cities by the coastal areas affected tsunami indiscriminately, and the reconstruction must not be trifle.
Rapid recovery would be but not premature reconstruction.
In order to accomplish genuine reconstruction of Tohoku, the power of landscape architects, whom respect history and culture of the land, is compulsory.

Beyond the survey, with prayer for those who passed away by earthquake and tsunami, we would like to put our effort to make the result from the design workshop together for supporting people trying to keep their lives at the reconstructing ground.

Hiroshi Ishii

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