Visit to Rikuzentakata 2013

In early July, 2013, UAA Professor & Director of Geography & Environmental Studies, Dorn Van Dommelen; UAA Professor & Coordinator of Japanese & Director of the Montgomery Dickson Center, Hiroko Harada; and Coordinator of the Montgomery Dickson Center, Steven Wilson visited several areas affected by the 2011 Tsunami over the course of four days.

 

Day 1 - July 9, 2013

Today was the first full day of the Monty Dickson Center's trip in Rikuzentakata. Had several productive conversations with the Rikuzentakata City Board of Education manager Yoshinori Kanno, another with the city's mayor Futoshi Toba and deputy mayor Takashi Kubota, and finally with Rui Kanno with the NGO "Aid TAKATA". The attitude and appearance of the town has changed so much since 2011 and even last year in 2012. Lots of cranes and trucks on the ground getting work done, but definitely lots more work ahead.

 
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  • Visit to Rikuzentakata 2013, Day 1 - 01
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Day 2 - July 10, 2013

Today was the second day of the Monty Dickson Center's trip in Rikuzentakata. We talked with the owners of the "Minshuku Musashi" guesthouse about Monty and their experiences during the tsunami. We observed current English assistant language teacher (ALT) Sean Dowty's 7th grade English class at Yokota Junior High School. We were able to speak with current temporary housing area leader Toshio Yamada about the hardships of those living in temporary housing. The members of the NGO "Save TAKATA" were gracious enough to sit down and talk with us about continuing a University of Alaska Anchorage--Rikuzentakata internship program. We were also able to speak with Mr. Sato, a former adult English student of Monty's, and hear his stories about the tsunami. Finally, we spoke with employees of Habitats for Humanity Japan about bringing UAA students to Rikuzentakata and Ofunato to volunteer with housing construction. All in all it was a very good, long, and emotional day. Our biggest thanks go out to all the individuals and programs that took time out of their day to host us and share with us their stories and visions of reconstruction in the region.

 
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  • Visit to Rikuzentakata 2013, Day 2 - 01
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Day 3 - July 11, 2013

Today was the third day of the Monty Dickson Center's trip in Morioka City. We spent an hour's worth of free time at the Iwate Park (home of the ruins of the old Morioka Castle) and nearby Shinto shrine sketching, taking photos, and enjoying the beautiful colors brought on by rainy weather. Afterward we met with the Research Center for Regional Disaster Management at Iwate University. Topics discussed included information about Monty and the formation of the Center; current Center activities; information about the recent re-formation of the Disaster Management Center at Iwate University; facts, figures, and data models of tsunami waves in Rikuzentakata and Taro; and the possibility of setting up a university relationship between the University of Alaska Anchorage and Iwate University. After such a long meeting, we took the 'shinkansen' (bullet train) back to Tokyo from Iwate in preparation for a meeting tomorrow in Tokyo. Definitely a beautiful, productive, and eye-opening day!

 
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  • Visit to Rikuzentakata 2013, Day 3 - 01
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Day 4 - July 12, 2013

Today was the fourth and last day of the Monty Dickson Center's trip. With only one meeting left we had some free time to explore Tokyo. We woke up at 4am and arrived at Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market to view the tuna auctions. Unfortunately we didn't arrive soon enough and missed out on a tuna auction, but we  grabbed some of the freshest sushi in Tokyo for breakfast! At noon we had a lunch meeting at the "Shunju" restaurant with Annette Bradford of the "Tomodachi Initiative" to discuss assistance with starting up a university exchange program at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Great food and the great skyline view of Tokyo from the 27th floor didn't hurt either! We finally ended a long day with sightseeing at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, and delicious ramen at "Ichiran" for dinner. It's only been about four days on this trip, but we've made a lot of progress and found some interesting leads (both planned and unexpected) which will hopefully help us advance forward the Center!

 
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  • Visit to Rikuzentakata 2013, Day 4 - 01
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