Two New Container Houses in Onagawa

AAR Japan, together with International journalist and project founder, Mr. Izuru SUGAWARA has been carrying out a project to send easy-to-build container houses to the disaster affected areas in Northern Japan. On May 10th, to provide housing for the evacuees who has been suffering from the prolonged life at the evacuation centers, we set up 6 container houses in Onagawa Town (Oshika County, Miyagi Prefecture). On May 22nd, two new container houses were installed in Onagawa Town.
The project founder, Mr. Izuru SUGAWARA reports on the activities on May 22nd.
Setting New Houses up in the Blink of an Eye

May 22nd – A container house built in no time. We counted on the help of many this time, too.

On May 22nd (Sunday), we headed again to Onagawa Town but this time in Omaehama area for assembling the second set of container houses. The pavilion of Omae Civic Center was being used as an evacuation center in which approximately 30 people lived. Here, a total of 6 container houses were supposed to be set up, but unfortunately, because some parts of the container houses imported from China were broken, we could only assemble two container houses.

This time, too, the majority of the assembling activities were carried out by Sendai’s Osaki Hachimanguu Shrine, led by Chief Priest ONOME, and by staff from Tohoku Grader Inc. a prehab company in Sendai and other volunteers. Staff from Osaki Hachimanguu Shrine were working skillfully and efficiently, so even Chief Priest ONOME joked,  "We’ve completely become ‘Osaki Industries’, haven’t we?!”

May 22nd – Beds and handmade tables inside the container house. The tables were provided by Nishikoba Contractors in Saitama.

In no time, the container houses assembled by the skillful “Osaki Industries” started to show up. It was completed only after around 2 hours of work. A light rain slowed down the work, but in an hour and a half, the interior and the beds were assembled, too.
This time, we also provided low tables. Nishikoba Contractors from Saitama, which built my house, made 10 cute low tables with surplus material and delivered them to Onagawa. I’d like to thank them for their cooperation and consideration. Thank you very much.
Also, I’d also like to thank Sangetsu Co. Ltd., who donated some carpets to AAR JAPAN this time, as well as delivered some low tables and carpets to the 6 container houses built before.
We finished cleaning the inside of the house before 3 PM and left Omaehama behind. Now, we just have to wait for the missing parts of the 4 remaining houses to arrive from China, to continue assembling the container houses. People at evacuation centers, we ask for a little bit more patience.
Flooding Demands on the Container Houses

Since we started the container house project, we have been receiving numerous requests from the disaster affected areas. Nevertheless, the truth is that due to funding problems, we haven’t been able to increase the number of container houses to provide.
Miyagi Prefecture Fisheries Cooperative’s Utatsu Branch says that they want to use the container houses as an office and also a temporary store. In a recent inspection, it was discovered that in 13 locations of the Minami-Sanriku Town’s Utatsu Bay, there wasn’t as much rubble as imagined. Cooperative members are gathering materials and boats to restart the culture activities by August and are designing a plan to carry on recovery activities of the fishery industry by rotating boats and workplaces. They say they want a container house to open a temporary office for the cooperative.
In a certain temple, tsunami carried away all the Buddha statues and other items from the main and annex buildings, as well as from the ground. The temple guardians removed the broken roof top and didn’t think twice about the danger when they entered the place and started rescuing the numerous Buddha statues and other Buddhist items from the rubble. They want to re-open the temple and use the container house as an office and also as a resting place.
Minami-Sanriku Town Fire Department building was flushed away by the tsunami and is now using a space lent by the city hall temporary building. However, they have no storage for their equipment and no nap room. Childcare facilities providing services to approximately 100 children also requested container houses.
In Ishinomaki City, social education organizations have not been able to perform their daily activities because most of the places, such as civic centers and other gathering places, are being used as evacuation centers. There’s not even a place for everyone to meet or gather to discuss regional recovery. Hearing the current situation of the people in the disaster affected areas and realizing how much they are awaiting for the container houses leaves my heart in pain.

All photos were taken by Mr. Izuru SUGAWARA.

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. “Assemblable 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.”