An Anthology of Rikuzen Takata Tales


The survivor stories of the Great East Japan Earthquake, Takada Matsubara pine coast and the Miracle Pine Tree, Hotawaka Gozen Meal, the stone sculptures of Fumonji Temple, Kesen Carpentry and Denshokan.

Each and every object and place tells its own tale.

Pat from Thailand and Koitabashi-san from Yamagata listened intently to each and every tale- a mixture of objective records of happenings and subject memories by individuals. Our host and guide for the trip, Obayashi-san from Rikuzen Takata city hall, brought us through the history, present and future of this little city northeast of Japan.

“How are we going to tell the story of Rikuzen Takata to our next generation and to people from outside Japan? If these individual tales are the ingredients available, how are you, as chefs, going to use the ingredients to produce an original dish?”





Stories of the tsunami survivors, the crisis that Kesen Carpentry, a long tradition of the local region, is facing due to aging population and a lack of successors- there are many dark and depressed stories still lingering around, but on the other hand, there are several positive and encouraging ones too.

Takada-cho, which was completely wiped out by the tsunami, will be building a memorial park as a symbol to show their resilience and determination to build back better. Also, new gourmet have been produced, such the “hotawaka gozen”, which is a dish that utilizes local ingredients like scallops and seaweed. These forward looking attempts are beacons of hope for the region as the region shows signs of moving forward as one.



During our homestay at Obayashi-san’s place, we had a casual barbecue dinner while chatting about our private lives. The recovery of Rikuzen Takata is not the work of the local government, but involves each and every resident. Therefore, it is important to hear out what each individual values and envisions for themselves. Their lives thus far, their current work and lives, as well as how they foresee themselves moving forward, are some points that we have to consider when thinking about the city’s future. As it drizzled outside, we spent the quiet night sharing our stories while overlooking the Hirota bay.


After the inspiring and enriching three days spent with our host, the designers spent the next three days transforming their abstract ideas into concrete designs. Pat suggested creating a community website for Rikuzen Takata. She thinks that the city needs to have something to display what they have, in order to attract tourists. This could include food, sceneries, accommodation, stories, activities and so on. With this community website, the locals are then able to share and express their ideas and messages to the visitors. Pat also brought up the idea of having a post-card system in the website where visitors can post short and powerful messages that will spread to an even larger audience.

On the other hand, Koitabashi-san came up with the catch phrase “Pass Down Rikuzen Takata” and suggested having a consistent design for the city’s website, tour guide uniforms, name cards, bags and booklets, so that it delivers a stronger message to the visitors. He also suggested having a book that compiles all the individual stories, or a performance troupe that allows the locals to express their feelings.


一方、小板橋さんはPASS DOWN RIKUZEN TAKATAというキャッチフレーズで、ウェブサイト、語り部のユニフォーム、名詞、鞄やブックレットなどのデザインを統一することで、よりメッセージ性が強いということを提案しました。更に、媒体として、ひとつひとつの物語をまとめた書籍や、市民劇団などを作ることも提案しました。

Rikuzen Takata is full of stories, sad and happy.
Set your foot onto Rikuzen Takata and you will be greeted with the Anthology of Rikuzen Takata tales.


  • Pat Laddaphan
  • Motoki Koitabashi