From ‘sorrow and despair,’ tsunami-hit Miyagi town opens shopping street

A shopping street extending from JR Onagawa Station toward the Pacific Ocean opened on Dec. 23 in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture. (Yosuke Fukudome)

A shopping street extending from JR Onagawa Station toward the Pacific Ocean opened on Dec. 23 in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture. (Yosuke Fukudome)

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  • A shopping street extending from JR Onagawa Station toward the Pacific Ocean opened on Dec. 23 in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture. (Yosuke Fukudome)
  • Local children ring a bell that was recovered from rubble of the 2011 tsunami during a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, on Dec. 23. (Yosuke Fukudome)

By NAOTO KISO/ Staff Writer

ONAGAWA, Miyagi Prefecture–With its population depleted, this coastal town opened a shopping street on Dec. 23 in hopes of generating a buzz and putting the misery of the 2011 tsunami behind it.

“We started from the midst of sorrow and despair and completed the shopping street by bringing together the ideas of town residents,” Onagawa Mayor Yoshiaki Suda said at the opening ceremony for the street. “We want to maintain the bustle in the town.”

The nearly 20-meter-high tsunami triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, swept through Onagawa, destroying buildings and killing about 570 in the town.

Onagawa’s population has declined from more than 10,000 before the disaster to about 7,000 now.

Six one-story wooden commercial facilities line the new 15-meter-wide walkway.

The walkway stretches 170 meters from JR Onagawa Station, which was rebuilt on higher ground after the disaster, toward the Pacific Ocean.

The 27 businesses housed in the facilities include a grocery store that was hit by the tsunami, a restaurant that had been operating on a makeshift shopping street, a guitar workshop and a car rental office for tourists.

Town officials are considering setting up a park near the area.

By NAOTO KISO/ Staff Writer
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