SENDAI -Towards a Disaster-Resilient and Environmentally-Friendly City


SENDAI -Towards a Disaster-Resilient and Environmentally-Friendly City

What is Real Recovery?
The Importance of passing on the sentiments of former residents

Representative of HOPE FOR Project
Tomoyuki Takayama
Panelist at the Plenary Session of the World Bosai Forum/ International Disaster Risk Conference 2017 in SENDAI

Shortly after the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred, the tsunami surged towards my house in the coastal area of Sendai City, so I evacuated to a local elementary school, a designated refuge area. Around 3,000 people had evacuated there and I thought about what I could do to help. I decided to send out safety information for the evacuees to their families and friends via Twitter, and managed to do so for over 100 of them. Prompted by a desire to do more, I held an event where balloons containing flower seeds were released on March 11, 2012, exactly one year after the earthquake. This event, held in the coastal area, Arahama, was the beginning of the HOPE FOR project activities. The words "HOPE FOR" printed on the balloons represented two hopes: to encourage each person who releases a balloon to make a wish by adding words that continue on from those printed, and for the flower seeds inside the balloon to grow and bloom where they eventually land. I have continued engaging in HOPE FOR project activities because I believe it is important for former-residents of the Arahama area to have a place to return to that reminds them, even just once a year, of those who lost their lives and the former Arahama area as it was before the earthquake.

▲Plenary Session▲Plenary Session

At present, local government is studying the possibility of utilizing the Arahama area. As the area is a designated disaster risk area, no one can live there anymore.
Former-residents of the area, however, obviously expected their lives there would continue in the future. The utilization of the Arahama area is not what they requested. They hide their thoughts about the Arahama area deep within their heart even though they don't express it verbally. At the Plenary Session, I called on the audience to be more considerate of the former-residents' feelings. Both the former-residents and the government think differently now compared to immediately after the disaster. That is exactly why I hope to collect together the former-residents' thoughts, communicate them to the government, and help them to be remembered.


In future, it is essential for each of us to consider disaster risk reduction and "Build Back Better" mean to us personally. I believe that simply constructing buildings and holding events are not the only things required for reconstruction. I strongly hope that reconstruction will be carried out while respecting the thoughts and opinions of the former-residents and future visitors to the Arahama district.

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