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EAST JAPAN EARTHQUAKE HERITAGE SITES

Restoring the historic cityscapes of Sawara and Kesennuma

EAST JAPAN EARTHQUAKE HERITAGE SITES
Tōhoku and Kantō Regions, Japan
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BACKGROUND

On March 11, 2011, a powerful earthquake struck the northeast coast of Japan. In the wake of the related catastrophic tsunami, many thousands lost their lives and millions lost electricity and water for a considerable period. (...)

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HOW WE HELPED

In October 2011, the East Japan Earthquake Heritage Sites were included on the 2012 World Monuments Watch. The following month, WMF and the Foundation for Cultural Heritage and Art Research launched Save Our Culture, an international effort to help cultural heritage sites affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

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WHY IT MATTERS

The architectural heritage of the towns in this region is both a source of community pride and a driver of tourism that supports local economies. Before the devastating events of March 2011, Sawara’s historic townscape attracted more than 500,000 visitors a year, but tourism dropped to 60% of its previous levels in the earthquake’s wake. (...)

VIDEOS
World Monuments FundWMF in Sawara, Japan
November, 2012

This seven-minute video, produced by the Ono River & Sawara Historic District Preservation Association, describes the history of Sawara, its economic rise and decline, and its development as a tourism destination. The video also covers the effects of the earthquake on the residents and commercial activities in the town, along with the inclusion of Sawara in the 2012 World Monuments Watch.

2014 WATCH

The heritage sites that were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake were included on the World Monuments Watch in 2012. Through the two-year Watch cycle, WMF provided substantial assistance for the restoration of nationally significant structures in two historic communities in the Tōhoku and Kantō regions. The East Japan Earthquake Heritage Sites are included again on the 2014 Watch to underscore the magnitude of the recovery effort and the continued need for collaboration, and to highlight the importance of this effort for the affected communities.

Download a 2014 Watch poster of this site (see download instructions).

SPOTLIGHT

World Monuments Watch Day

The town of Sawara celebrated Watch Day during the annual autumn festival, a centuries-old tradition. A parade of traditional floats from Sawara’s communities converged on the center of the town, amid traditional music and dances.


On YouTube: 2012 World Monument Watch Day in Sawara, Watch Day 2012 in Sawara – Part I, Watch Day 2012 in Sawara – Part II
Dig Deeper: Watch Day Slideshow , Watch Day Video