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March 11, 2011

At 14:46:18 on March 11, 2011, a massive M9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of Sanriku in Tohoku.

Human casualties / Dead: 15,893, Missing: 2,553

Number of evacuees: 123,168 (as of February 13, 2017)

Damage to houses: Totally destroyed: 118,000 houses Half destroyed: 182,000 houses
Area inundated by tsunami: 561 km2

Agricultural land damaged by the tsunami: 21,476 ha

This major earthquake and tsunami caused tremendous damage mainly in the Tohoku region.

Situation assessment and investigation

We went to the affected areas to understand the situation, listen to the real voices of the victims, and find out what their needs were. We learned that even in the same disaster area, the degree of damage and the speed of recovery differed from region to region.

The local conditions and needs kept changing, and I spent many days listening to the voices of the local people.


Salty “soil”

As we continued our research, we focused on soil, which contains salt from seawater. We thought we could make use of our existing technology and construction method, “soil blocks.

“Soil blocks are made of magnesium oxide derived from seawater. Soil that has been salted by the tsunami cannot be used as farmland, but it can be used effectively as soil blocks.

We have decided to use our expertise in soil block structures to manufacture soil blocks in several locations as part of our reconstruction support. We will weave a new value into the soil that has been covered by seawater and has become “abandoned”.


We make it together.

From the design to the creation and stacking of the earthen blocks, Atelier Tenkohjin, the Minamisanriku Reconstruction Promotion Network, local residents, university professors, and university students participated in the project.

The local residents hosted a barbecue and we were able to deepen our friendship. The color and other characteristics of the soil differed from region to region, and we were able to create unique soil blocks.

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