Rikuzentakata Field Trip

Master of Social Development and Administration Course (MSDA)

Aug 31, 2023


The MSDA course offers a field trip to Rikuzentakata City for first-year students as part of their off-campus research activities. This is intended not only to observe disaster countermeasures, but also to deepen exchanges with other students and faculty members. Students from other countries have a fulfilling opportunity to enjoy the Japanese lifestyle and culture away from the city. This is an enriching opportunity for them to deepen the meaning of studying at a Japanese university.

MSDA Field Trip(2023.8/6-8/8)

At Fumonji Temple

This time we had a field trip to Rikuzentakata City on August 6-8 to observe damages caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and learn how various local actors have worked on reconstruction.
This was our second visit, following last year, but it was first time to visit Rikuzentakata Museum and Fumonji Temple, which was used to receive volunteers after the disaster, were unforgettable stories told by the local people.
MSDA students appreciated the opportunity to recognize the importance of disaster risk management, learning about the role of social connections and the resilience of the local people who make continuous efforts to recover from the damages of the disaster.

BACAR Anza Bacar

Firstly, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the stunning opportunity that the MSDA program provided to travel in the countryside of Japan. It was the first time/experience in my life to take a bullet train, and I can say for sure that I would never have had such an experience if I had not joined this program in this University.
On the first day, after arriving in Rikuzentakata, we went straight to Tsunami Memorial Museum where the atmosphere was wonderful.
Then we were taken to delve into the Tsunami memorial in which we had four moments for learning: Tracing History; Learning the Facts; Moving towards Reconstruction Together; and Learning lessons.
I also learned a lot about Disaster management, and a bit more about Japanese society and culture as I went to see a very beautiful traditional festival of Rikuzentakata . I experienced the locally produced Japanese cuisine, especially seafood, which tastes different from my country.
I also had a brilliant opportunity to visit the local people in Nagahora village. They were very humble, open, and polite people.

POHIVA Samiuela

The trip to Rikuzentakata is a great learning experience for me. I have always been interested in two major aspects of natural disasters: first is understanding people’s coping capacity in times of natural disasters in the context of rural Japan. Secondly, is how development can also affect the impacts of natural disasters. I often believe that disasters are a test of human beings’ relationship with the natural environment. The reality of living with disasters is a factor that all human beings must learn to accommodate in life. Rikuzentakata illustrates how people dealt with the tsunami individually and as a community. This is found in the evacuation experience, the role of religion in emotional support, and the people making reasonable decisions to support others. Additionally, it showed a good example of how development can also affect the impacts of the tsunami. As we visited the Nagahora and seeing the main road through the valley being cut off by the tsunami. I can only imagine how many people struggled to use that road to evacuate to safety while the road was constructed in a danger zone. These are the things I learnt during the field trip.


It was a very eye-opening experience to visit Rikuzentakata in Iwate Prefecture. We could see and experience that the city has since been rebuilt and is now a symbol of resilience and hope for the Japanese people and the world's citizens. The first stop was the Rikuzentakata Tsunami Memorial Museum. This facility tells the story of the tsunami and its impact on the city. Learning about a story of tsunami tendenko (てんでんこ) was very interesting, as well as learning about this event so that we can prevent it and be more resilient. Before the museum, I walked along the Reconstructed Coastline. This new waterfront area was built in the aftermath of the tsunami. It is a place to reflect on the power of nature and the strength of the human spirit; looking at the miracle pine tree and the remaining of the Youth Hostel shows the actual impact in a place that has been rebuilt, and most places don’t show what happened there.I am very impressed by the resilience of the people of Rikuzentakata and the help of volunteers and the local and national government to reconstruct. They have rebuilt their city from the ground up. I am grateful to Rikkyo University for the opportunity to visit this city, and I’m sure that new generations of MSDA students will be, too.

MONDLANE Grácio Ângelo Antonio

On the very first day of the field trip, the students visited the Iwate Tsunami Memorial Museum, the place that tells the story of the tsunami 2011. We learned how the local communities of Tohoku area faced the impact of the tsunami and how the international society responded to it by providing international assistance and aids worldwide. \ Then, we visited the Rikuzentakata Museum.. The Museum archives diverse documents, resources, and all the objects collected and recovered after the 2011 tsunami. We saw a curator at the museum working on recovering the damaged documents.
On the second day, two lectures were delivered by persons in charge of important projects in the community; aiming at attracting young people to that place as well as to revert what they called the bucket theory. Then, we visited the remains of temporary housing build on the playground of the Rikuzentakata Higashi Junior High School. Then,we move to the Buddhist temple where we had a lecture regarding the role of the Buddhist community during the recovery process.
On the third day, we had a lecture concerning the evacuation process, and food distribution logistics, and the most important lecture was about how the local people in Nagahora area survived the damages of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, consolidating their community bonds.


Since I experienced the Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami in 2004 during my childhood, followed by the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, the catastrophic effects of natural disasters have been etched deeply in my heart. This trip helped me to realize the resilience of the local community in facing adverse situations together. Conversation with the survivors in Nagahoragenkimura nurtured my understanding of how resourceful local communities are in the context of community empowerment toward a sustainable recovery. The disaster mitigation strategies and a story of tsunami tendenko, a local wisdom telling three major principles of evacuation, also opened my eyes to the innate resilience of the local people. In the philosophical dimension, in Fumonji temple, I could resonate with the human spirit's endurance and pain through the 500 statues that lead to the temple.
I was also surprised at the contributions of new businesses in the recovery process and how people from other areas of Japan have more to Rikuzentakata City for aiding the recovery. I was empowered to know that these enterprises have become agents of change in the city through innovation and circular economy while reviving the local economy. This trip demonstrated the role of businesses in rebuilding communities and showcased the scopes of positivity amongst adversity.


Since entering the industrial age, human beings have always considered themselves the masters of nature. However, under natural disasters, human beings seem so insignificant.
In this land where Buddhism and Shinto coexist, people have realized this for thousands of years, celebrating and commemorating the gifts of nature, gods, and unknowns in their way.
From the miracle pine tree under the tsunami to the reconstruction of self-sufficient villages after the disaster, although life is small, it is tenacious. During the three-day trip, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of Rikuzentakata, impressed by the love of the residents for this land, and touched by their courage and hard work. We are used to the urban life, but in Nagahora Genki Mura, this idyllic way of life is yearning, everything is refreshing and feels back to basics. Sustainable development may be a very difficult topic, especially in Japan, where natural disasters are frequent. However, the attempts and challenges here are a very good case and direction. I have really learned a lot. Thank you, the staff of MSDA at Rikkyo University, and Arigado, Rikuzentakata.


Coming from a country with neither tsunamis nor earthquakes, the field trip to Rikuzentakata was an extremely valuable experience for me. I have heard about how horrifying the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami before but none of the stories and documentaries could accurately describe the catastrophic consequences of the disaster . Through the model of the whole town that we saw, new buildings and houses are currently constructed in the more restricted land space than before, due to the post-disaster urban planning. Surprisingly, the temporary housings were completely different from what I had thought. I had anticipated the place would be a big building where every household shared and lived together but the houses were separated and they provided a very convenient place for the shelters. I was most interested in the two museums that we visited. We got to observe the strength of the tsunami that could even destroy everything that stood in its way through the preservation of the artifacts and I was particularly absorbed by how they managed to recover the old scripts and papers.

YE Zhongqi

Visiting Rikuzentakata, a city once devastated by the 2011 Tohoku tsunami, was a deeply humbling experience. The resilience of its people, amidst the backdrop of reconstructed buildings and protective structures, painted a vivid tapestry of the human spirit's indomitable will. As I wandered through the city, conversations with local people revealed layers of emotions – from profound sadness for what was lost to an unyielding hope for the future. One particularly poignant moment was when I spoke with a local elderly man. He emphasized how the disaster shaped the landscape and the communal psyche. While they’ve made incredible strides in rebuilding, the real strength lies in the shared bonds of the community and the collective determination to move forward. There was an unwavering belief in the potential of Rikuzentakata, a city reborn from tragedy.
Listening to their stories reminded me of the power of human connection and the importance of community. This trip was more than just an educational excursion; it was a lesson on resilience, hope, and the eternal flame of the human spirit, even in the face of overwhelming odds.
Furthermore, a heartfelt thank you to the teacher who accompanied me on this journey, their guidance and insights greatly enriched the experience.


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Master of Social Development and Administration Course (MSDA)

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