Keep tsunami-stricken isatomae community alive

Feb 27, 2012

Tent as a community center and shopping place

The Isatomae tent shop in snow
The Isatomae tent shop in snow

Dear Kind-hearted Donors,

Thank you very much for many donations brought to Isatomae people in Minami-Sanriku Cho. They really appreciate your donations and were given big encouragement through human interactions in the tent-shop we constructed. They are encouraged to move forward.

A big change is taking place now with the tent, passing almost one year after the 3.11 Tohoku Tsunami. This area is quite cold, having temperature between -5 and -15 degrees in centigrade during winter time. Tent is too cold for customers to come and enjoy shopping. Although the Biomas Network Japan brought a big stove, it was not adequate enough. Besides, in the middle of December, the Government constructed temporary shop houses which can create a warm and nice shop environment with an electric air conditioner. No way a tent shop can compete. As
a matter of fact, cold temperature brought a couple of incidents of burst water pipes, causing several days without water. Since computers left in the tent broke down due to moisture and cold weather, a volunteer-operated computer
school decided to move out.

Despite such conditions, the tent shop is functioning to serve the needs of local people. Presently, four shops are still in operation (a lady’s hair salon, a wine shop, a coffee shop and convenience goods), and two NGOs have their places for community activities. Community events are taking place there, turning it more like a community center. Since the tent is operated with little charges, in terms of financial conditions it is more attractive to shop owners who have less favorable financial conditions. The government-provided temporary shop-houses require a little big amount for rent and a deposit for removing the housing which will take place three or four years later. Besides, the number of shop-houses constructed is very small relative to those constructed in the main town of Shizugawa. So, the tent shop still remains attractive to some people who are contemplating to open a shop. It offers a good ground for generating shop start-ups, which can move out of the tent once they start accumulating some fund and regular customers. Besides, once spring comes, it will bring back customers, and community center activities by NGOs and the computer school.

In a sense, the tent is now functioning as an incubation center for very small shops and a community center. It is still satisfying vital needs of Isatomae people, and will bring more activities once spring comes. Since it will take several years before Isatomae people will finally have a permanent location to live and have economic activities up in the mountain side, not next to the ocean, the tent will continuously serve the vital needs of Isatomae people, though its function transforms as the stage of recovery and redevelopment advances..

Heat-contained hair salon
Heat-contained hair salon
Hair salon operation
Hair salon operation
A few other shops in operation
A few other shops in operation
NGO meeting places
NGO meeting places

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Project Leader

Yoshitaka Okada

Tokyo, Tokyo Japan

Where is this project located?

Map of Keep tsunami-stricken isatomae community alive