Tsunami-damaged Ishinomaki Line makes full recovery in Miyagi

JIJI, Kyodo

The JR Ishinomaki Line in Miyagi Prefecture resumed full service over the weekend after the massive tsunami spawned by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake wrecked it.

According to East Japan Railway Co. (JR East), the last damaged section between Urashuku and Onagawa stations, a distance of 2.3 km, reopened for business on Saturday. It is the first of the tsunami-damaged passenger lines in Miyagi to resume full operation. Most of the line was restored by 2013.

“After four years, we have at last reached this point,” Onagawa Mayor Yoshiaki Suda said at a ceremony to celebrate the line’s revival that drew some 2,300 people. “It will take some more time to fully rebuild our town, but we will move forward.”

The ceremony took place in front of the brand new Onagawa Station building, which was built about 200 meters further inland and was designed by Shigeru Ban, winner of the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize.

The new station sports a gull with spread wings on the roof, and a hot spring bath.

After the ceremony, local schoolchildren helped see off the first train to depart from the rebuilt section.

Onagawa’s population has dropped by about 30 percent since the natural disasters, which triggered the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in adjacent Fukushima Prefecture.

Resident Shigeru Kimura, 65, praised the line’s restoration.

“Once the train line is connected, a town will be created. I want young people to return,” she said.