Maeami-hama is located on the Oshika Peninsula – about ninety minutes east of Ishinomaki in the Miyagi Prefecture. Currently, people have to drive a long narrow and windy road, still left scarred by landslides triggered by the earthquake. Government aid hardly reaches remote villages like Maeami-hama because the repair of damages for infrastructure in larger towns typically receive priority.
Panorama photo of the entire village (photo by Tomoro Aida)
The earthquake and tsunami wiped out almost the whole village of Maeami-hama - only five houses out of forty survived. The Maeami-hama Reconstruction Project Team was established in May 2011 after the residents lamented the government's slow response to the reconstruction of their village. The team has a total of nine members, and leads the community of 80 people.
The members of the Maeami-hama Reconstruction Project Team
Most villagers work for the aquaculture industry, and used to live on the water. In 2011, the government laid out the no-build zone along the coast and built a temporary housing complex for the residents of Maeami-hama on higher ground, away from the coast where they work. It takes villagers about five minutes by car to commute now. The peninsula is mountainous with very limited flat land to build. The temporary housing complex does not have enough community space for family gatherings such as weddings, funerals and other community events.
Architecture for Humanity assisted design and construction of a community house in partnership with Kobayashi-Maki Design Workshop and Keio University. The Maeami-hama Reconstruction Project Team, the community organization, and local fishermen helped the construction. The site is located at the entrance to the village, and is owned by the fishermen’s union which generously donated the land for the community. The site is located on higher ground, with much reduced risk of submersion.