A Shopping Arcade Made from Container Houses!

Together with international journalist and project founder Mr. Izuru SUGAWARA, AAR JAPAN has been carrying out a project to send easy-to-build container houses to disaster-affected areas of northern Japan. In the town of Onagawa in Oshika County, Miyagi Prefecture, we set up 8 container houses on May 10th and 22nd, and a further 10 container houses on June 7th and 8th.

Project founder Mr. Izuru SUGAWARA reports on progress on June 7th and 8th.

10 Newly-installed Container Houses to be Used as Residences and Shops

In Miyagi Prefecture, the town of Onagawa suffered extensive damage in the Great East Japan Earthquake, with only 800 out of 3,800 houses surviving intact. The shopping arcade facing Onagawa Bay suffered the greatest damage from the tsunami, with everything being swept away. Three months have passed since the earthquake, but still there are only two stores where residents can go shopping—a convenience store and a small shop.

On June 7th and 8th, we set up 10 container houses at Washinokami-hama in Onagawa, responding to a request from the youth section of Onagawa’s Commerce and Industry Association. They wanted to use the container houses as residences and shops to revive the shopping arcade.

As before, assembly was largely carried out by the staff of Osaki Hachimanguu Shrine, led by Chief Priest ONOME and professional staff from Tohoku Grader Inc., a prefab company in Sendai. Ms. Mina KONISHI, who has been supporting our activities through procurement and transportation arrangements, also participated, along with her husband Mr. Nils Built. Staff from Nishikoba Contractors came from Saitama to provide handmade tables again, and many others, including members of the youth section of Onagawa’s Commerce and Industry Association, assisted in setting up the houses.

June 7th – These Italian-made container houses have floors and roofs of vivid blue, giving them a cheerful mood and making them ideal for use as shops.

A Container House Village Full of Hope

With 10 blue-roofed container houses installed, a cute shopping arcade was born!

The youth section of Onagawa’s Commerce and Industry Association named the place “Container House Village”. People passing through by car or bicycle glanced at the sight and spoke to members of the youth section.

Youth section member Mr. Yoshihide ABE said, “We have wanted this for more than two months since the earthquake. With this, we can restart.” Seeing the bright smiles on Mr. ABE and the other youth section members, I had a great feeling that something was likely to happen soon, and that the recovery of Onagawa would be stimulated by the power of these people.

I was told that food and clothing stores, electronics shops, flower shops, and coffee shops will stand along this shopping arcade.

“We want to set up tables and chairs to run an open café.”

“It’ll be wonderful for everyone to be able to get together and talk while drinking tea.”

“That’s right! We haven’t had a place to get together and talk.”

“We hope we can collect town information here, and use this place as an information hub.”

Their image of the shopping arcade seemed to be getting bigger and bigger. Some facilities will be arranged soon, and for the first time since the earthquake, the shopping arcade will open at the beginning of July.

The members of the youth section of Onagawa’s Commerce and Industry Association seemed to be full of life, working hard to pave the way toward the future. I was moved to witness a moment full of such hope.

There are still many people who are hoping to receive container houses as residences, nursing facilities, and temporary office buildings. I beg for your continued support so that we can widen the circle of joy.

June 7th – The shopping arcade waits to be opened for the first time since the earthquake. These people all cooperated in setting up the container houses.

International political analyst and international journalist. Born in Tokyo in 1969. Graduated from Chuo University with a degree in political science. Received a master’s degree in international relations from Universiteit van Amsterdam (University of Amsterdam). Has written for magazines and published books on international affairs as a freelance journalist.

Assembleable container houses are easy to transport and take only a few hours to set up. The container house project was proposed in the hope of providing comfortable living spaces quickly and efficiently while the government sets up temporary housing. We have been actively engaged in this project, from obtaining and importing the container houses to setting them up on the ground.