Build Back Better Tohoku

by Architecture for Humanity

Tohoku Newsletter Banner October 2013

September 22 marked the arrival of Fall. October is a great time to visit Japan, as temperatures have lowered but are still warm, and trees begin to change colors in the Northern regions and at higher elevations. We look forward to the full arrival of Fall.

Our office has been busy with our eight RFP projects moving along - one of which is already completed! A new workshop series at MakiBiz begins this month, and the Kamaishi Park for All project is also moving forward with construction almost ready to begin. Read more below.

We hope this month treats you well, as temperatures begin to lower!

Best, Architecture for Humanity

Yamayo SuisanMakiBiz Request for Proposal Program
The MakiBiz Request for Proposal (RFP) program supports the rebuilding of small businesses and entrepreneurs affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. Winners were identified in early August, and have since been moving forward with their projects full steam. Read here to read about our eight winners!


Archtiect submitting the permit set
On August 24th, Toyo Ito Associates, Architects (TIAA) completed the drawings and submitted the permit set to the Kamaishi building department to receive their construction permit. Everything is set to move forward, and we are currently negotiating with contractors to begin construction in early-November.

MakiBiz has supported 120 business owners to date. Information about our clients along with other MakiBiz updates can be found here.

MakiBIz Signage InstalledMakiBiz Signage Installed!
MakiBiz finally has exterior signage installed, making us more visible within the community welcoming clients into our space! Designed by the Tokyo-based design team KBT (pronounced "Kabuto"), these flags officially announce our arrival in Ishinomaki. Find these flags in Ishinomaki and come say hello! See update here.



MakiBiz Seminar Series: Business Psychology
MakiBiz Seminar Series: Business Psychology
A new round of seminars began at MakiBiz on October 11. This series of 4 seminars will be lead by NPO Iwate Mirai Kikoh, in the evenings at our MakiBiz office free of charge. The seminar will cover the topics of: Behavioral Psychology for Negotiation and Marketing; Communication methods; Color Psychology to Captivate People's Hearts; and Stress Check and Relaxation Methods in the Office Environment. See this flyer (in Japanese only) to sign up.




In Progress


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


Tohoku Newsletter Banner July 2013

Summer has arrived! The rainy season has passed, and temperatures have soared up in cities throughout Japan. These extreme temperatures, combined with high humidity, bring with them dangers such as heat strokes. As the heat continues over the next few weeks, we hope everyone remembers to stay hydrated and well!

Many projects and programs are making strides at our MakiBiz office. We are excited to begin supporting the eight businesses that were carefully selected through the RFP program, and these will be moving forward quickly over the coming months. In Kamaishi, an insightful community engagement workshop was recently held for the Kamaishi Park for All project, and the design continues to be refined with community input. Additionally, we have been providing consultation services as always, and round two of business seminars have been taking place at MakiBiz. Find out more below.

High temperatures will continue over the following weeks. Please take care of your health.

Architecture for Humanity

*As always, we hope you enjoy seeing where your support has taken this program, and our doors are always open for feedback.   


MakiBiz RFPMakiBiz Request for Proposal Program
The application period for MakiBiz's Request for Proposal (supporting the rebuilding of affected small businesses and entrepreneurs) has ended, and after careful consideration, eight businesses were chosen out of nearly 40 applications received from the prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima. MakiBiz will continue supporting these businesses, and projects will kick off shortly! Look forward to updates to follow.

Park for All Community Engagement
On July 10, a community design workshop was held with nearly 50 local participants. Preliminary designs were presented with drawings and models, and participants were encouraged to provide feedback for design refinement. Read what the community came up with in the report here.

MakiBiz has supported 103 business owners to date. Information about our clients along with other MakiBiz updates can be found here.

On June 28th, the installation of a fence in the back yard of the community house was completed. Boards were fitted on both sides of the fence, and a door was also installed. Now children can play without the danger of falling. Full report here.


MAKOTO Business Seminar 2 at MakiBiz
MAKOTO Business Seminars
The second round of MAKOTO Business Seminars has kicked off at MakiBiz, with two seminars held to date. Mr. Tomohiro Takei is again, leading these seminars with the first two held on how to create a business plan. Four seminars remain in this series, all held in the evenings at our MakiBiz office free of charge. See this flyer (in Japanese only) to find out how to sign up. Reports on these seminars to come.



In Progress

Park for All in Kamaishi - 75% SD/DD


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

Tohoku Newsletter Banner May 2013


May began with Golden Week, a collection of four national holidays spanning over a week.  This long holiday is one of the busiest holiday seasons with many taking the opportunity to travel around Japan and abroad.  With the passing of this long holiday, people are now back to their normal routines.


Recently we heard news of the first confirmed piece of debris from the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami arriving to the state of California.  More than 25 months after the event, the event remains present as 221,000 tons of debris is predicted to reach the west coast by this Fall.


At MakiBiz, a number of events have been held in the past month, along with our regular business consultations.  The Park for All project is moving forward, MakiBiz staff have participated and given a number of seminars and events, and we have launched a Request for Proposal to support small businesses.  See below for news, project updates, and opportunities! As we approach summer, temperatures are warming and becoming more comfortable.  


We hope you enjoy this warming weather!


Architecture for Humanity



MakiBiz RFPMakiBiz Request for Proposal
MakiBiz has issued a Request for Proposal.  This program will support the rebuilding of small businesses and entrepreneurs who were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.  If you are, or know of anyone in need of a construction grant to rebuild their business in Tohoku, please encourage them to apply.  Details (Japanese) can be found on the MakiBiz facebook page and on this flyer.
On the weekend of April 6-7, MakiBiz staff participated in a symposium on rebuilding titled, "Miyagi Rebuilding Voice Earthquake Disaster Rebuilding Symposium 2013: Thinking Support and Collaboration from Local Rebuilding - The voice of Kitakami, Ishinomaki."  14 organizations and individuals (including Architecture for Humanity) participated by presenting their rebuilding activities, which was followed by a round table discussion raising issues and concerns on rebuilding.  This event provided a platform for people to exchange honest opinions and thoughts around the subject.
Park for All
KYSIN-no-kai released a vision package for Park for All in the recovering village of Kamaishi.  With a different site due to issues with the previous location, the Park for All will now accompany a cluster of temporary houses and a large temporary school in a valley away from the sea.  Check out the new sketches here.


Housing Seminar at MakiBiz
People who lost their homes will be required to move out of their government subsidized temporary housing units and into permanent housing in the near future.  Addressing concerns and considerations people will when looking at housing options, a series of five seminars were held over the past month and a half.  Lead by our design fellow, Akinobu, these seminars were held free and open to the public at our MakiBiz office.  Look forward to a more detailed report to come!



In Progress

Park for All - SD


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

Build Back Better Tohoku: Two Year Anniversary

Architecture for Humanity is collaborating with local design and construction professionals to reconstruct the northern Japan region where the earthquake and tsunami hit on March 11, 2011. Any community would have been devastated by such a disaster – Japan was better prepared than most. However, it is in the event of disaster that communities need assistance in rebuilding. Through our network of local design and construction professionals we are providing technical expertise to help build back better Tohoku.

Tohoku Program Map


As the first year response, we started our program by listening. We enlisted design fellows from Tohoku to ask the locals directly what they needed. By listening to them and reacting swiftly to their needs, we built trusting relationships with communities. This was a very important step for us as a foreign NPO (Non-Profit Organization) before discussion of rebuilding could begin. Programs such as Honyaquake and Road Home were our responses to immediate needs.

We have completed 11 in the 2 years that have past since the disaster, and currently have several more in design or under development. The following is the list of reconstruction projects that we have been working on. There were many bumps on our way, from typical bureaucratic issues to post-disaster stress within some communities, but our goal has always been the same: to rebuild sustainable communities and economies in Tohoku.

Although this was an earthquake of unprecedented magnitude, it was certainly not the first time Tohoku suffered from a tsunami. Their resiliency will help the reconstruction of the region. Architecture for Humanity is honored to be able to support such an endeavor, and would like to continue working alongside the community every step of the way.





In the same way that one acupuncture needle can influence the overall health of a body, we believe a single key project can work to create a positive ripple effect to aid the entire affected community in its recovery process.

Our focus lies on three branches of community reconstruction (access to sports, education and welfare, and economic development).

Access to Sports

Providing access to sports through the built environment is of strong initial importance in the recovery process, as it aids in rebuilding ties between individuals and promotes physical and mental health.

Education and Welfare

As children and elderly are vulnerable portions of the population, there is a need to reconstruct spaces for children to learn and play, and elderly to socialize and obtain the resources they require in every day life. 

Economic Development

A number of financial lifelines - engines that allow communities to become self-reliant, were devastated by the tsunami.  Helping local businesses recover, open, create jobs, and collectively provide a financial future is essential in building back better.




Kitakami "We    Are One"                              Tour Designing the answer



Ohya Green Sports Park

Ohya Green Sports Park
Kesennuma, Miyagi
completion date:  2012.04
a sports park donated by coach Nofu to children who lost their play space due to the tsunami.


Shizugawa Judo Juku (

Shizugawa Judo Juku
Shizugawa, Minamisanrikucho, Miyagi
completion date:  2011.12
a temporary local judo center for elementary, junior high, and high school students that has trained 2 prefectural champions


Maeami-hama Community House (

Maeami-hama Community House
Maeami-hama, Miyagi
completion date:  2013.02
a community house designed using an innovative building technique,  in a town where only five out of forty houses survived


Paper Crane Sculpture ()

Paper Crane Sculpture
Sendai, Miyagi
completion date:  2012.01
2,000,000 cranes folded by students from 38 countries were sent to their Japanese peers and assembled into a large sculpture


Akahama Covered Alley

Akahama Covered Alley
Otsuchi-cho, Kamihei-gun, Iwate
completion date: 2012.07 
a covered alley connecting the lower and upper units of a temporary housing complex, encourages resident interaction


Kitakami Community House

Kitakami Community House
Kitakami, Ishinomaki, Miyagi
completion date: 2012.12
a place for residents to shop for fresh produce, and a safe place for mothers to work while they watch their children play after school


Hikado Market Place

Hikado Market Place
Motoyoshi, Kesennuma, Miyagi
completion date: 2011.06
a covered wooden deck made of salvaged timber from the tsunami, where community members gather to enjoy food and drinks


Oshika House

Oshika House
Ayukawahama, Ishinomaki, Miyagi
completion date: 2012.07
a space for the women's group of Oshika Peninsula Fishing Union to contribute to rebuilding back their village better and stronger


Shizugawa Banya

Shizugawa "Banya"
Shizugawa, Minamisanriku-cho, Miyagi
completion date:  2013.02
a workplace and warehouse ("Banya") for a group of 15 fishermen collaborating to rebuild a collective aquafarming business



Ishinomaki, Miyagi
completion date:  2012.11
as our first regional office in Japan, MakiBiz seeks to help small businesses in Tohoku rebuild and recover




Park for All Kamaishi

Park for All in Kamaishi
Kamaishi, Iwate
completion date:  2013
a park and clubhouse surrounded by the nature of Kamaishi, where children can enjoy sports activities.  Built in collaboration with KYSIN-no-kai




The tsunami did not differentiate between large and small businesses. In Ishinomaki alone, we do know that a total of 1,749 SMEs were affected, resulting in the loss of 472,000 million yen in profits and the loss of 18,000 jobs. Of these, 6,024 jobs lost were in the construction sector.

MakiBiz Helps SMEs

MakiBiz MAKOTO WorkshopRecovery from disaster requires a holistic approach. Disaster survivors require access to a wide range of services, including counseling, education, training, construction and design. The integration of construction services with business support services is key to the long-term economic recovery of the region. We opened our first regional office in Japan - "MakiBiz," which seeks to help small businesses in the Tohoku region rebuild and recover. MakiBiz provides design, construction, and business development referral services to the community of Ishinomaki in support of their efforts to build back better.

Unfunded Projects

Your donation will help fund the following projects we haven't been able to support financially, and many others in the future. 

Two years have past, but the communities still need help from donors.

Tokura Earthblock Workshop: estimated cost = $15,000

Kazuma Youth Center: estimated cost = $100,000

Hanahama "Costa de la flor": estimated cost = $150,000

Osaka Community Photo Studio: estimated cost = $200,000




We're partcipating in a special Japan Matching Campaign for a limited time!  Donations TRIPLED on the 11th, DOUBLED until the 15th!  Please DONATE TODAY and help us help communities in Tohoku for another year.


Japan Matching Campaign







Program Lead: Eric Cesal Program Manager: Michael Steiner Program Coordinator: Hiromi Tabei Regional Program Manager: Shogo Marukawa Design Fellows: Takaharu Saito, Akinobu Yoshikawa, Toru Nakaki, Yuko Okamura Business Coordinator: Miku Kano


Aida Atelier, Doogs Design, Hiroyuki Teshima, Japan Institute of Architects Tohoku Branch, Junichiro Matsumoto, KBT, Kiichi Kaiko, Kobayashi Maki Design Workshop (KMDW), Kumi Aizawa, Nathaniel Corum, Sasaki Sekkei, Shizuyo Shiba, studio-L, Yo Hayasaka, Yutaka Takiura


Luxs, Plante Module, Shimizu Kenchiku, Silhouette Spice 

Major Partners

ArchiAID, Autodesk, Bentley University, Bezos Family Foundation, Citizen Effect,, GlobalGiving, Global Nomads Group, Heath Ceramics, Kimball International, Nike, PACT, PechaKucha Inspire Japan, Prudential Foundation, Prudential of Japan, Punkt., Sara Morishige Williams, Students Rebuild


Architecture for Humanity London Chapter, Architecture for Humanity Tokyo Chapter, City of Ishinomaki, Daisaku Okamoto, Daniel Bensi, ETIC., FLight, General Incorporate Association Tsumugiya, Hatsumi Hoshizawa, Hidehiko Ishimori, Higashi-niban-cho Elementary School, Hirohisa Higashi, HMC Architects | Designing Futures Foundation, Islander Middle School, JR East, Kazuki Kasahara, Keio University, Kyoto University of Art and Design, Leslie Stoner Studio, Machizukuri Man-bow, MAKOTO, Miyagi Prefecture Department of Education, Miyagi University of Education, Miyagi University School of Project Design, NPO Midori-no-ie School, PacRim Studio, PayPal, Reiji Ohe, Ruinart-Moet Hennessy, Saunder Juriaans, Sendai Central Community Center, Sendai Saiwai-cho Youth and Community Center, Shanti Volunteer Association, S-Pal Sendai, Supporting Organization for Artists of Tohoku, Tadd Sackville-West, The COVE/CTM DREAMS United National International School, Tohoku Seikatsu Bunka University, Tohoku University, Tohoku University of Art and Design, Tsutsujigaoka Elementary School, University Cooperative School, University of Cincinnati, University of San Francisco, Valerie Quirk, Vic Muniz Studio, We Are One Kitakami, Women's Group of Oshika Peninsula Fishing Union in Ayukawa-hama, Yasunobu Meguro, Yoshihiro Konno, Zenetsu Sakai




This work would not be possible without the generous support of our staff, design fellows, volunteers, partners and donors. Thank you!


Autodesk, Bentley University, Bezos Family Foundation, Citizen Effect, Dianne Douthat, Global Giving, Heath Ceramics, HMC Designing Futures Foundation, Hong Kong Ambassadors of Design, Jeannie Hoff, Kimball International, Minami Design, molo design, Nike Inc., PACT Apparel, Inc, Polk Bros. Foundation, Prudential Foundation, Punkt Group, Roti Indian Bistro, Ruinart-Moet Hennessy USA, Sarah Morishige Williams, Sarah Yannaco, Szu-Lung Chang, Tencent America, LLC…and many others.

Fundraising Organizers

Architecture for Humanity London Chapter, CafeLife Virtual Cranes for Japan, Fashion Girls for Humanity, Heartbeats for Japan, Live4Sendai, PechaKucha, Rise for Japan, Robert Nealan

A Special Thank You

Last but definitely not least, we would like to thank all of the individuals who donated to support our reconstruction effort in Tohoku. While we cannot list everyone here, we are especially grateful to you.

Architecture for Humanity makes every effort to ensure accuracy in donor and partner listings, but on occasion errors may occur. Please contact us at 415-963-3511 with any questions or comments.


(Click here to see the web version of this report.)

Tohoku Newsletter Banner January 2013


2013 has quickly kicked off, and our projects are moving along!  Kitakami "We Are One" Collaborative officially opened last month, Maeami-hama Community house is scheduled for completion in the next few weeks, and we have welcomed many into MakiBiz with seminars and consultations.  Read updates below for a glimpse of what's been happening.  

February brings three holidays commonly celebrated in Japan (only one is a national holiday).

Feb. 3rd - Setsubun (beginning of Spring)
Although this is not a national holiday, it is celebrated by many nationwide.  This event occurs one day before spring, according to the Japanese Lunar Calendar and is now most commonly celebrated with the ritual of throwing roasted beans around the house and at temples and shrines yelling "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!"  This scares out the evil spirits from entering, and keeps happiness inside.

Feb. 11 - Kenkoku kinenbi (National Foundation Day)
On this day in 600 BC, the first Japanese emperor was crowned.  This is the only national holiday in this month.  However, celebrations of this day are relatively muted since expressions of nationalism are rare.

Feb. 14 - Valentine's Day
In Japan, this day is celebrated slightly differently where only women give chocolates to men.  Men return this gift a month later, on "White Day" (March 14).

The coldest month of the year has passed, and we can look forward to a slight rise in temperatures as we move into February.  This coming month, two of our staff will be heading to Tohoku.  Look forward to reports from them when they return.

Stay warm and take care!


Architecture for Humanity

*As always, we hope you enjoy seeing where your support has taken this program, and our doors are always open for feedback.  


MAKOTO seminar January 11MakiBiz

Our first regional office in Japan, MakiBiz has been up and running since the end of November.  Our staff has been providing business support for many clients, and have completed hosting our series of 6 MAKOTO Business Seminars, over a period of 3 months.  The seminars were attended by many in the community, with high satisfaction.  Look forward to new seminars to come.


Kitakami project completedKitakami "We Are One" Market and Youth Center  (completed)

Construction has been completed and the center officially opened its doors on January 23rd!  With the center open, several programs have already been scheduled to take place in the new building.  See images and a more detailed report here.


Maeami-hama interior under constructionMaeami-hama Community House (in construction)

Construction is still moving along.  Most of the building was assembled in a matter of weeks and the building is targeted for completion at the end of February.

Again, frequent construction updates on this project can be found on KMDW (the architect of record)'s facebook page (in Japanese only). We will also be providing periodically summarized updates from these posts here, so stay tuned (our most recent post found here)!



3.11 Anniversary

The two-year anniversary of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami is coming up.  We will be launching a campaign to commemorate this event in support of the people in Tohoku who are still working to recover and rebuild.  Stay tuned.




In Progress
Shizugawa Fishermen's Workspace "Banya"  - CA 98%
Maeami-hama Community House  - CA 70%

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



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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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