Great East Japan Earthquake
On March 11th, 2011 at 2:46 p.m., a massive magnitude 9.0 earthquake with its epicenter off the Sanriku coast in the Tohoku region struck northeastern Japan. A huge tsunami accompanied the earthquake and caused extensive damage, primarily to the coastal areas of the Tohoku region. In Sendai, a tsunami with a maximum estimated height of 7.1 meters hit parts of the city along the coast. Areas that were severely affected came to be designated as disaster risk areas and their residential use has since been restricted. In Sendai, such areas are coming to be used for other purposes.
With a total length of about 49 km, running between the Abukuma and the Former Kitakami rivers in Miyagi Prefecture, the Teizan Canal is one of the longest canals in Japan. Excavation began several centuries ago during the Edo period, and over the many years since then, the canal has given rise to unique landscapes and cultures. Sections of the canal in the Sendai city area were built during the late 19th century and came to support the daily lives of the people living there. The Great East Japan Earthquake caused extensive destruction to the canal. The tsunami significantly damaged levees and revetments and washed away most of the houses in villages in the vicinity. Nevertheless, to protect this precious historical heritage and to restore the once rich natural environment and its beautiful scenery, together with human activity, various initiatives have been developed working with local residents and others who take an interest in the area.
Teizan Canal Forum
A forum held annually by the Teizan Canal Club. An occasion for discussion of ways in which the Teizan Canal can be utilized, covering areas such as its historical significance and status as a tourism resource.
Teizan Canal Club
One of the citizen groups working to improve the appeal of the region, in this case by utilizing the historical heritage site that is the Teizan Canal. The club works cooperatively with a range of groups including neighborhood associations around the canal to communicate its appeal to Sendai citizens through events, the creation of maps, and so forth.
A type of boat that was used to on the Teizan Canal until the 1960s. Horses (uma) and ropes were used to pull the boats, loaded with cargo, across the canal.
Airin stone monument （Forest Appreciation Monument）
Under afforestation projects carried out by national and prefectural governments before and after WWII, the area of Shinhama's coastal forests, which are mainly comprised of Japanese black pine, was greatly expanded to cover the sand hills. This initiative was commemorated with a stone monument known as the Shinhama Coast Erosion Control Forest Monument (also known as the Airin stone monument), erected in December 1953 on the dunes at the northern end of the village. Afforestation by local residents commenced in 1942 as an erosion control forestry association project carried out on communally held land that had been sold off by the government. The inscription on the back of the monument lists the names of the association members so that even today, we can learn about the services carried out by all the families involved in the afforestation efforts. (Source: Furusato Shinhama Map 2019)
Hachidai ryūō monument（Eight Great Dragon Kings Monument）
A stone monument erected on October 20th, 1870 on the inland-side of the sand dunes to expresses wishes for the prevention of accidents at sea and maritime safety in general.
The names of the three people responsible for the project are engraved on the monument, together with those of the many residents who supported the project by making donations. Along with agriculture, dragnet fishing for flounder and sardines had been practiced for a long time in the sea around Shinhama. (Source: Furusato Shinhama Map 2019)
An inland marsh left untouched since the disaster, located along the Shinhama coast on the western side of the Teizan Canal. Many coastal marshes that have “gama” as part of their names. Post-tsunami, a wide variety of flora and fauna have survived in the marsh, and the ecosystem is making a fast recovery. Satohama is an area that is recovering from the damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami. With a capacity to record and convey information about the nature and culture of the area, the wetland is being conserved and utilized by local residents, universities, and related organizations.
Remains of Teizan Inari Shrine
A small Inari shrine dedicated to the god of agriculture and tori gate once stood in Shinhama facing the Teizan Canal. Swept away by the tsunami that accompanied the Great East Japan Earthquake, only the foundations now remain. The Inari shrine was important not only for Shinhama, but also as a place of worship for the women of neighboring Arahama, who used to visit it on New Year’s Day.
Walking Tour of Small Buildings
A Footpath event that has been presented by the Teizan Canal Club since 2021. Departing from Home for All in Shinhama, the tour makes its way to the Teizan Canal. Stopping by several small buildings along the way, participants get a taste of the nature and history of the area. Created by artists, local residents, and people involved in Shinhama, the small buildings that feature on this tour are all unique structures.
Along the Sendai coast, initiatives are being carried out to regenerate pine forests that were destroyed by the tsunami. In Shinhama, many different kinds of broadleaf trees were planted to create a broadleaf forest.
Home for all in Shinhama
An architect-led initiative, Home for All, is a facility that was built in different places in the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake as a base from where people who had lost their homes and jobs in the disaster could get back on their feet and rebuild their lives. The first Home for All was designed by architect Toyo Ito and associates as a Kumamoto Artpolis-supported project and was built in a temporary housing area in a park in Sendai. The temporary housing was dismantled in 2016 and relocated to the Shinhama area, which is home to many of the people who had been living in shelters and who have rebuilt their homes. Even now, Home for All is put to frequent use a place for local residents to come and relax or as a gateway for visitors to the neighborhood.
Located in the Arahama area of Sendai, Seaside Library has neither books nor buildings. Walking around town while listening to former residents talking about the life and culture of the area before the earthquake; sitting on benches to read a book or play a musical instrument with the sound of the waves in the background; enjoying a BBQ or stone-oven pizza—this is a library that can be experienced “like the act of reading a book.” (Source: Seaside Library website)
CDP skatepark & playground
Opened in 2012, a skatepark & playground in Arahama. Located on a residential site that was left with nothing but its foundations after the tsunami struck, the playground is managed by the site owner, Mr. Kida, who makes small changes to the facility as he goes.
CDP is short for Carpe Diem Park, from the Latin, carpe diem for "enjoy the moment.”
Ruins of the Great East Japan Earthquake: Sendai Arahama Elementary School
This school building, which was damaged in the 2011 disaster, has been preserved and is open to the public, displaying materials related to the earthquake and the Arahama area.
At the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake, 91 children were enrolled in the school. A total of 320 people, including the schoolchildren, staff, and local residents, used the school building as an evacuation site. The school closed in March 2016 and has been open to the public since May 2017 in a new role as a ruin of the event. It is also sometimes used to host support activities for former residents.
Ruins of the Great East Japan Earthquake: Residential Foundations, Arahama Area of Sendai City
Ruins featuring foundations of houses left behind on a destroyed residential site and the land erosion caused by the tsunami that accompanied the Great East Japan Earthquake.
The policy is to make no modifications to the site, to the extent possible, in order that visitors can see it in its authentic state. In an Arahama that is undergoing change with restoration and reconstruction, this is a place where some of the memories of the former houses and lives that were lived there remains.
Group for the Revitalization of Arahama
A citizen's group of former Arahama residents, formed in October 2011 and active until June 2018. Initially, the group’s activities focused on urban reconstruction in the original site. From 2014 onward, the aim switched to creating an environment in Arahama that would once again draw people to the area. Working together with supporters and volunteers, the group organized coastal cleanups and opportunities for interaction at their base, Satoumi Arahama Lodge.
HOPE FOR project
A group primarily made up of graduates of Sendai’s Arahama Elementary School and Shichigo Junior High School and other interested parties. The group organizes events and currently holds an annual event on March 11th at Earthquake ruins Sendai Arahama Elementary School with live music and a memorial function where balloons filled with flower seeds are released. The event brings together both former residents and others who care about the Arahama area.
Megumi Kitchen in Arahama
A group that organizes events and activities such as early morning farm work followed by breakfast on Saturdays in Arahama. The group presents a range of experiences themed on the blessings offered by Arahama—farming, fishing, the ocean, the canal, local culture—through which it hopes participants will spend an enjoyable time learning about ways of engaging nature and about the local culture, which is rooted in the land. Another hope is for the personal enrichment of participants by cultivating their ability to thrive in life. Events that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike are put together with such sentiments in mind.
(Source: Megumi Kitchen in Arahama website)
Arahama Night Lantern Ceremony
A traditional event held at the end of the Obon festival in Arahama each year to pray for the souls of the dead. Each household brings a lantern unique in materials and form and releases it on to the water of the Teizan Canal. After the earthquake, the event was held during daylight hours for safety reasons such as the lack of streetlights. In 2018, however, the nighttime event was revived after an eight-year absence.
A large park located on the Sendai coast. Kaigan Park is a general term for the parks found in the four districts of Okada, Arahama, Ido, and Fujitsuka. After the earthquake, the park was used for debris from the disaster. Restoration work commenced in 2014, with the park being able to be fully utilized again in 2018. It is equipped with a baseball field, a park golf course, an adventure space (children’s playground), and, since the earthquake, also a hill to be used for evacuation in the event of a tsunami.
The Ido District of Wakabayashi Ward, Sendai City, was severely damaged by the tsunami that followed Great East Japan Earthquake. Initially, it was assumed that the entire district would be designated a disaster risk area, which would prevent reconstruction. However, most of the district was eventually excluded from the disaster risk area and reconstruction, allowing reconstruction. Nonetheless, by November 2011, when the Sendai City Disaster Recovery Plan was formulated, many residents had already relocated to safer inland areas, and only 11 of the 103 households remained in the Ido area. Although the Ido Neighborhood Association continued to exist, various challenges in the district became apparent, such as a decline in having local autonomy due to the residents aging and the deterioration of the former housing sites (Transmitting "Ido Now!,” Ido Town Development Information Bureau).
The Shinhama District in Okada, Miyagino Ward, Sendai City, was severely damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Shinhama Neighborhood Association independently created and conducted a basic plan and an action plan for community developmentand proceeded with local reconstruction, thereby becoming the closest community to the ocean today. While the population is smaller than before the disaster, the Shinhama people have been working to build a disaster-resistant community, and they are collaborating with various organizations to make the most of the area’s nature, history, and culture.