Almost every junior high and senior high school in Japan has its own Judo team, but Shizugawa is special for having a school in the town where elementary school students, junior high students, and high school students all train together. Since the teachers for this school are often volunteers and former graduates of Shizugawa High School, the school has a very strong sense of community.
The original school was washed away by the tsunami, with nothing remaining but the foundation. Most of the students’ and instructors’ homes did not fare much better. After the tsunami, the students were forced to move into a partitioned part of a fishing warehouse belonging to one of the student’s family. Due to loss of life and displacement, the current size of the dojo is less than one-third the size of a normal one. The walls had no insulation and some of the windows were missing (replaced by a tarpaulin).
Architecture for Humanity installed a door so the Judo team no longer has to duck under the blue tarp. The permanent door also stopped cold winter air from coming in.
Even with all of the tragedy, this school is home to TWO current prefectural champions! We now hope these students can practice safely and win more competitions!