Keep tsunami-stricken isatomae community alive

by Ippan Shadan Hojin DSIA
Jun 24, 2013

Advancing Dynamically to Attract Outside Visitors

Isatomae Shop Tent
Isatomae Shop Tent

     The Isatomae shop tent still remains there, but it is closed for many days. Its usage has not been changed since my last visit. The nature school frequently uses the tent during a summer break for children, while it remains as a storage for shops in the Fukko Temporary Shopping Center located close to a shore road. But I have clearly identified the location of a new housing relocation area. As my picture shows, houses will be constructed in the nearest forest area from the tent. Since nobody is allowed to live along the coast any more, except building a shopping complex, people will move into the forest area. I am certain that this tent, being very close to the housing area, will be lively with people again as a community center.

      I visited Rikuzen Takata City first, and saw some construction of banks along the coast. But I could not find any bank construction work in Isatomae, Minami-sanriku-cho. It seems that an agreement among Isatomae residents has not yet been reached, though it seems to come very soon. They have agreed to build 8.5 meter banks along the coast and river, while the road will be elevated to 4.5 or 5.5 meters. It seems this road height is the source of disagreement. For residents, the elevated level of road determines the height of a wall created by banks, either 3.0 meters or 4.0 meters. The psychological effect of the difference will be quite big and important. Naturally, another issue is a disagreement between the government and residents whether the former has enough budget to accept local demand. So, they are getting a little bit behind relative to other cities, though they are advancing this issue democratically even asking a younger generation to develop an ideal redevelopment plan.

      Despite their delay, the local chamber of commerce is doing an excellent work to develop their local economy. The Isatomae community is too small to keep its economy going, and has to develop some mechanisms to bring outside people over weekends. They succeeded in doing so by organizing a local fish festival, a wakame (sea weeds) festival, weekend markets, a music festival organized young people, etc. It seems a reputation is well developed that if people come to Isatomae, they can always find some events and activities. In one event, they succeeded to attract about 12,000 people in the market. As a matter of fact, they have been so successful that the local police started having headache, since these events are eating into the police security budget.

     On Auguest 11, 2013, an event called “Festival for Utatsu Post: An Ocean Path which Linked People in its Drifting Trip” will be held. It involves a famous Okinawan singer, Mr. Shoei Higa, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIAC) which owns the Japan Post Corporations, and the Isatomae Chamber of Commerce. One red post box originally located in Isatomae was swept away by the Tsunami, and then one year and nine months later, it suddenly came ashore in Iriomote Island, Okinawa Prefecture. According to a specialist, it must have drifted away to the Hawaii Islands and back to Nishi Omotejima. Mr. Shoei Higa learned about this story, and his producer decided to use this post box as a symbol of helping the Isatomae Community. One day the Minister of MIAC invited Mr. Higa, a representative from the Isatomae Chamber of Commerce, and related others to give a permission to use this box for a festival and also to develop a plan for future use by the Isatomae Community. This August 11 event will become an enormously big one, which is naturally a serious headache to the local police. Students at grade schools and junior high schools are also to write about the wonder of how this post box linked people through its ocean passage. The local chamber of commerce is also to invite a group of hula dancers from the Spa Resort Hawaiians in Fukushima Prefecture, another victim of the disaster, to symbolize the distance the post traveled. The Isatomae Community is now much more livelier than three months ago.

Inside the tent, used as a storage
Inside the tent, used as a storage
Forest Across the Tent for New Hosuing
Forest Across the Tent for New Hosuing
Fukko Temporary Shopping Center
Fukko Temporary Shopping Center
Mr/Mrs Yamauchi, Vice Director of Local CC
Mr/Mrs Yamauchi, Vice Director of Local CC



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Organization Information

Ippan Shadan Hojin DSIA

Location: Tokyo - Japan
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Yoshitaka Okada
Tokyo, Tokyo Japan
$3,750 raised of $20,000 goal
60 donations
$16,250 to go
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