Located in Natori City in Miyagi Prefecture, the Yuriage Harbor Morning Market was rebuilt in May 2013 after being severely damaged in the Great East Japan Earthquake. Maple Hall, a regional exchange center located inside the market, was built with aid from Canada as part of the Canada-Tohoku Reconstruction Project.*1
On Thursday, May 4, five seminar students in College of Social Sciences Associate Professor Satoshi Nagano’s seminar, who are supporting community development in the Yuriage district as part of their research, participated in an event hosted by Natori City to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Maple Hall and thank Canada for its support. At the ceremony, the seminar students unveiled a Canadian flag reproduced with 650 tulips*2, a flower that is well-loved in Canada, and the flags of Japan and Canada dyed with tulips in front of guest speakers including Natori City Mayor Shiro Yamada and Embassy of Canada Consul Matt Fraser.
Seminar head and project leader Daichi Fujii (third year, College of Social Sciences) expressed his appreciation and discussed the seminar’s future plans by saying, “Tulips are a familiar sight in Canada, which holds one of the world’s largest tulip festivals, so we used tulips to express our gratitude to both Yuriage and Canada. Going forward, we hope we can further expand the connection between the countries.”
*1: In 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake caused unprecedented damage throughout the Tohoku region. To assist in the region’s recovery, the Canadian government and the provincial governments of British Columbia and Alberta launched the Canada-Tohoku Reconstruction Project together with the Canadian lumber industry and the Canada Wood Group.
*2: Tulips are a popular flower in Canada, which is home to one of the world's largest tulip festivals.
The day of the event was blessed with fine weather and a cool sea breeze, and people enjoyed seeing the Yuriage district brightly decorated with red and white tulips.
Past and present members of Associate Professor Nagano’s seminar class have been working on developing a product called Yuriage Fukko Sasa-kamaboko, or fish cakes shaped like bamboo leaves, while learning from local residents, and they have implemented a range of events aimed at creating new landscapes that will remain in the town.
The seminar students surveyed the local residents, and many of them said there are few playgrounds in Yuriage, so the students are looking into creating a playground where children can play while getting a feel for the friendly ties between Canada and Yuriage.
Comment from Associate Professor Nagano
Based on the topics of social innovation and social design, the students in my seminar have been involved in solving local issues and conducting fieldwork from the initial planning stage, all while cooperating with local people from various sectors. I am extremely grateful to all the people in Yuriage who always help us. Going forward, we would like to expand upon our activities using tulips like we did this time. I also hope that my students can gain a zest for life through their studies in the field.
Comment from seminar member Yua Oita (third year, College of Social Sciences)
Our seminar activities began in earnest in April, and that is when I went to Yuriage for the first time. I was able to experience many thing that I would not have been able to do if I just limited my studies to the classroom. I experienced firsthand the atmosphere of the town, the local people and their thoughts, and the places where people spend their time, and I realized that the town, which was severely damaged by the earthquake, has been rebuilt with the support of many people. We plan to continue what we are doing so Yuriage becomes a place where people come to relax for long periods of time.