A short extract of a post that features in my book about the Great East Japan Earthquake, The Teas That Bind:
It is depressing but not surprising to learn from those back home that Japan has been largely ignored by the news recently, in favour of stories of footballers doing something somewhere to someone no-one can tell you anything about. Meanwhile back in reality, as the clear up and relief efforts continue, others wonder what follows for the coastal regions of Tohoku and their vanished communities. Architectural practice Bakoko this week considered the options for rebuilding available to the Japanese government, asking three critical questions:
- Rebuild on higher land at higher cost in a new location?
- Rebuild flood-proof buildings on existing plots?
- Rebuild as before and put faith in higher sea walls?
Returning to shoreline homes may seem inconceivable to many having seen the devastation inflicted on them on 11 March. As Bakoku notes, if your life and that of preceding generations has been tied to the ocean, it may not be so simple to turn your back on the shore, even when the ocean has treated you so brutally. Few people can live close to the sea for long without gaining respect for its power and love for its variability. Those ties, coupled with the high cost of available land in Japan, are likely to mean that many will choose to return.
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