Build Back Better Tohoku

by Architecture for Humanity

September 11 marked the three-and-a-half year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Progress has been made in affected areas, where debris has been removed, infrastructure has been restored, and those in temporary housing have begun moving into more permanent housing solutions. Currently there are 89,000 people still living in prefabricated temporary housing units. Employment, education and prospect for the future of the city are all important factors to consider when choosing a location to make a fresh start. Leaving the sense community created in the temporary housing community and creating new connections at the next location can be a source of anxiety that follows as well. Creating your own "home base" - deciding on your location of residence and place of employment - plays a critical role in the shaping of a stable and safe lifestyle. However, it is clear that for the survivors who experienced invaluable loss, the decision is not an easy one to make. Even so, the people of Tohoku with their perseverance and strength are living with the appreciation that they are alive, and are working towards challenges with a positive attitude without losing hope.

It's mainly these types of people who are the clientele of MakiBiz. "I want to rebuild my shop to create a space where people in the community can gather," "I want to create an industry that people in this city can be a part of, and create employment opportunities," "I want to revive my business not only for myself, but also for the people that have supported and cheered me on" – these are the types of statements that we hear from our clients over and over again. MakiBiz is working to respond to each individual's consultations by creating a business support team to work with our clients.

Three-and-a-half years seem long and short. There are the residents in the affected communities who have kept trekking forward, and there are people who are working to support the recovery of these communities. However the recovery of the region is not moving as much as the general public assumes. What is required to further the recovery? In the past three-and-a-half years, those in the community have been desperately running forward, but in current circumstances where things have gradually began to calm down, the time has come to truly face the issue of what the future of Tohoku will be as we move forward. MakiBiz will continue to walk along with the residents of Tohoku, supporting them in the best way possible.



MakiBiz RFP Program Overview

With the completion of the Oikawa Denki office space, only 2 out of the 9 MakiBiz RFP Program's projects remain to be completed - Konpiramaru and Tamiko Abe. These two projects are planned to be completed in November. Learn more about each project through their project links on the Open Architecture Network.

MakiBiz Client Intake

MakiBiz has supported 190 business owners since it opened its office. Information about our clients, along with other MakiBiz updates can be found

"Dream Map" Workshop Held at Ishinomaki NOTE

MakiBiz helped to coordinate "Dream Map," a popular dream visualization workshop in Japan at Ishinomaki NOTE, an organization that supports young adults with employment support. The event consists of visualizing what you'd like to become or what you'd like to accomplish in the future, and using pictures and words to express this on one sheet of paper in a six-hour time frame. Their fuzzy dreams gradually take a clearer shape through the process of self-analysis and in speaking with other participants, and it helps participants to take action in achieving them. We hope that this process empowered participants in taking a step forward to achieve their dreams!

MakiBiz Business Support

Much progress has been made with our business support clients! Kikuzakari Sake Brewery, who holds a 140-year history, has started fundraising through a micro-financing service to buy all required equipment that will replace ones that they lost for the tsunami! And two ship-building companies in Ogatsu have merged into one, and are working towards constructing a new factory. Moving forward, we will likely be aiding many businesses in reaching funds necessary to rebuild. MakiBiz will strengthen its support structure, and continue to aid small businesses with the support they need!



Business Coordinator

Tesuki Washi Ushiogami
Tesuki Washi Ushiogami
Tamiko Abe
Tamiko Abe
Oikawa Denki
Oikawa Denki
"Dream Map" Workshop
"Dream Map" Workshop
Kikuzakari Sake Brewery
Kikuzakari Sake Brewery


Earth-Calming Ceremony at Tamiko Abe Project
Earth-Calming Ceremony at Tamiko Abe Project

Ground-breaking Ceremony held at MakiBiz RFP Project, “Tamiko Abe”

Ground-breaking in Japan is quite ceremonious. When commencing construction of a building in Japan, it has long been tradition to hold a ceremony in which one receives permission from the site’s spirits, and purifies the site. This ritual is called Jichinsai,” translating to earth-calming ceremony.

Jichinsai is held before commencing all building construction to pray for safe construction.

While different regions and religious denominations dictate slight variances in how the ceremony is carried, the ceremony space is typically created with green bamboo inserted at the four corners of the site with Shimenawa (a thick, twisted straw rope with strips of white paper attached, hung to ward off evil spirits) connecting the four corners. An altar is set in the center of the ritual site.  Himorogi is set on the altar, along with offerings of sake, salt, rice, fruits and vegetables, to welcome the spirits.  With this setting, the ceremony is carried on by a Shinto priest, welcoming the spirits, eating the offerings, and communicating the message that a building will be built on that land.

Tamiko Abe’s Jichinsai was held on June 30, where the client, all construction staff, and MakiBiz staff all attended the ceremony to pray for a safe construction!



MakiBiz RFP Program Overview

Six out of nine projects in the MakiBiz RFP Program have been completed, with Baikado completed in July. Three projects: Oikawa Denki, Konpiramaru, and Tamiko Abe now remain. Oikawa Denki reached a big milestone this month, with a ridge-pole raising ceremony on the 12th.

Learn more about these projects, as well as the completed ones on each project page on the Open Architecture Network.

MakiBiz Client Intake

MakiBiz has supported 180 business owners since it opened its office. Information about our clients, along with other MakiBiz updates can be found here.

Thank you, Kayo!

Our Design Fellow, Kayo Andrews who was mainly involved in our MakiBiz RFP project but also many others, left our team in June after 9 months of great work with our MakiBiz Office. Kayo brought her academic and practical architectural knowledge from the U.S. to the team, and supported MakiBiz with her fresh and innovative ideas to move the projects forward in great strides. Her open kindness and cheerful smile brought power to everyone in the community! Thank you, Kayo!

MakiBiz clients receiving media attention

MakiBiz clients' paths to reconstruction are receiving some attention! Media outlets have highlighted news of companies moving forward on their path to reconstruction, including news of the merging of ship manufacturing groups in Kesennuma. A TV program in Miyagi also covered a story about Ushiogami, who recently announced their newest product in Barcelona. Stay tuned for news on press on our clients, as they continue along their path to reconstruction!





Project Name // Project Stage and % Stage Complete

Baikado // Completed July 2014

Oikawa Denki // CA 60%

Konpiramaru // CD 100%

Tamiko Abe / CD 100%

Wakaba Kindergarten // Completed Apr 2014

Tesuki Washi Ushiogami //  Completed Mar 2014

Park for All in Kamaishi //  Completed Feb 2014

Yamadai Utsumi Suisan //  Completed Jan 2014

Sasaki Tekko //  Completed Jan 2014

Yamayo Suisan //  Completed Oct 2013

Shizugawa Fishermen's Workspace "Banya" //  Completed Feb 2013

Maeami-hama Community House //  Completed Feb 2013

Kitakami "We Are One" Market and Youth Center //  Completed Dec 2012

Akahama Covered Alley //  Completed Jul 2012

Oshika House - Women's Collaborative //  Completed Jul 2012

Paper Crane Sculpture //  Completed Jan 2012

Shizugawa Judo Juku // Completed Dec 2011

Ohya Green Sports Park //  Completed Dec 2011

Hikado Marketplace //  Completed Jul 2011

CA Construction Administration / ; CD Construction Documents / ; DD Design Development / ; SD Schematic Design / ; PD Pre-Design /  - About the Phases

Baikado Factory Construction Nearing Completion
Baikado Factory Construction Nearing Completion
MakiBiz Client Intake
MakiBiz Client Intake
Thank you, Kayo!
Thank you, Kayo!
Ushiogami Products
Ushiogami Products



Business support is one of MakiBiz's two main focus of works. One way we provide this type of support is through hosting our business seminars, in partnership with business experts. On May 7, our successful four-day marketing seminar, "Using Design to Expand Your Market" came to an end.

This seminar series along with the one-on-one consultations that came with it, were led by our partner, Mr. Kasama from Communa Translation Design. Approximately 40 businesses and supporting organizations participated in these events, and worked rigorously in coming up with a marketing plan for their business.

In the seminars titled, "Strategizing new products to expand your market" and "How to work with a designer," participants had the opportunity to learn about the basics of marketing and branding. The attendees earnestly listened, as Mr. Kasama began with the question, "What is design?" - a question that was often floating on their minds without anyone to ask.

The one-on-one consultations sessions were particularly popular. We could see the faces of participants gradually lighten up, as they received advice on solving current issues, and tips on next steps to take to further grow their businesses. Seeing this gave us a renewed confirmation on the importance of working one-on-one with affected business owners. We plan to have seminars like this more regularly in the future.




MakiBiz RFP Program Overview

Baikado, Oikawa Denki, Konpiramaru, and Tamiko Abe are currently under construction or in their design phases.  With the goal to complete all projects by August 2014, we are working with clients and the design and construction team to move each project forward.  Learn more about these projects, as well as the completed ones on each project page on the Open Architecture Network.


MakiBiz Client Intake

MakiBiz has supported 170 business owners since its office opened in November 2012.  Information about our clients, along with other MakiBiz updates can be found here.


Gifu Nagaragawa Rotary Club visits MakiBiz

On April 24, we spoke with Gifu Nagaragawa's Rotary Club members, who visited MakiBiz, displaying interest in our work.

Our work at MakiBiz is gradually reaching a wider audience, and we are frequently receiving inquiries from architects who want to learn more, and from volunteers looking to get involved. Thank you! We hope to continue expanding our fan base!



This year, we'll be participating in [STAND UP WEEK], an event that is held a week before  Ishinomaki's biggest festival, " Kawabiraki (River Opening)." This event, titled "Expo for creating the future," uniquely highlights people and groups around the city through various events and activities.  MakiBiz is currently strategizing a fun way to participate in this event!




MakiBiz participating in [STAND UP WEEK 2014: Role-model City for Creating a Future
July 25-August 1
Place: Ishinomaki
About: Using the four scenarios: play + feel + make + eat, there will be many opportunities for visitors to experience the new Ishinomaki!
Organized by: ISHINOMAKI 2.0




Highlight: Mitazono Wakaba Kindergarten Opens Its Doors!

On March 29th, children and parents filled the kindergarten for the pre-opening event where children full of excitement and energy will soon be running around.

A large group effort was made in an effort to complete the building before this event. Architecture for Humanity helped sand off column edges, floors and walls, and built a few shelving units with Professor Ishihara, architect of record, who brought up a group of students from Chiba (about an 8-hour drive away). Meanwhile the contractor worked full speed to build the pavement and complete the final touches, completing the building just in time for the event.

On event day, the building quickly filled with excited children and parents as they arrived to get a first taste of their school. The teachers introduced themselves, explained the overall schedule and curriculum, and called the children one by one to receive their new school uniforms. Following the event, the children ran around the building, chasing each other and the balloons, and running around the outdoor corridor in circles - the children's favorite part of the building for sure.

We look forward to seeing the children use the space with their excitement and energy!



MakiBiz RFP Program Overview

Our Wakaba Kindergarten project was recently completed, adding to our list of finished projects within this program, and at our completed Ushiogami Project, paper craftsman, Master Tsukahara lead a workshop on April 12.

Five projects have now been completed, and the remaining four projects are currently in construction, permitting and design phases! A more detailed report on current RFP projects to be posted on our website's update section soon!


MakiBiz Business Seminar

The launch event for our current MakiBiz Business Seminar Series: Using Design to Expand Your Market, was held in February and has been a great hit. Lead by Mr. Kasama from Communa Translation Design, this seminar series is being held over a period of four days. Learn more here.

MakiBiz Client Intake

MakiBiz has supported 167 business owners since its office opened in November 2012. Information about our clients along with other MakiBiz updates can be found here.


We greatly thank those who participated in GlobalGiving's Japan Matching Campaign that ran from March 11. Your continued support enables us to continue supporting communities in need. Thank you!




  • MakiBiz Business Seminar: Using Design to Expand Market - April 30, May 30 MakiBiz continues to host free business seminars through our partner, Mr. Kasama (Japanese only). Seminar recap to come!




Say Hello!

This month we had a new addition to our team! Kayoko Sakamoto will be working as a Communications Associate at MakiBiz. Having just completed her HQ training, she's ready to roll!

Kayoko comes from a professional background in event coordination and promotion, and has managed several community-based events in Japan. She is another believer of the power of social design, and loves to travel and take photos.

Welcome, Kayoko! We're happy to have you on our team!




Happy New Year!

We excitedly welcome 2014, the year of the horse!

Cold temperatures fill Japan, and snow has begun to cover the northern landscapes. 2013 was a busy year; we completed the Maeami-hama Community House, Kitakami Market and Youth Center, the Yamayo Suisan and at MakiBiz we held a number of business seminars open to the public and helped many clients through business consultations. We currently have 5 projects under construction plus one more beginning shortly.

In this update:

We look forward to continuing our efforts in supporting Tohoku communities in 2014!


Architecture for Humanity


Yamayo SuisanMakiBiz Request for Proposal Program

The MakiBiz Request for Proposal (RFP) program is supporting the rebuilding of 7 small businesses and entrepreneurs affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.

With 4 projects under construction, one more to begin at the end of the month, and 2 already completed we are steadily building momentum. See this update for a summary on where each of the projects stand.

We will begin supporting two additional projects this Spring. Look forward to updates to come!

Building nearing completion

The building is now 90% complete! Most of the lighting, plumbing and paint work is done, all that remains is the deck on the first floor, which will be installed in two weeks. Construction work will now focus on the field where netting has already been installed, and drainage will be installed this week.

Look forward to completion of this project soon!

MakiBiz has supported 144 business owners since its office opened in November 2012. Information about our clients along with other MakiBiz updates can be found here.

Architecture for Humanity represented at AIA Japan Annual Event

In November, senior design fellow Aki presented at an annual AIA Japan event held at Daikanyama Hillside Terrace in Tokyo. Here he presented our work, mainly focusing on an overview of our reconstruction and rebuilding efforts worldwide and in Japan. Read more about this event.

Embracing Change: Building Resilience with Communities 
Embracing Change: Building Resilience with Communities

On January 15 and 16, Keio University's International Program for Environmental Innovators (EI) will host their 4th International EI symposium at their Hiyoshi Campus in Yokohama. Organized and led in part by Architecture for Humanity Tokyo Chapter leaders, the event will bring together actors and pioneers carrying out projects directed at building resiliency around the world. The discussions are aimed at inspiring new ideas for how to deal with massive changes, such as climate change, disaster response, social issues and economic transformation.

Reconstruction and Resiliency Studio Director Eric Cesal will be speaking about what the developing world may be able to teach the first world about building resilient communities. Learn more about the event and how to register here!



In Progress


CA Construction Administration; CD Construction Documents; DD Design Development; SD Schematic Design; PD Pre-Design - About the Phases


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Organization Information

Architecture for Humanity

Location: San Francisco, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Architecture for Humanity
Project Leader:
Hiromi Tabei
San Francisco, CA United States

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