All over the country, lives sputtered, flickered, and went out. Japan will never forget March 11, 2011, when a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami left the country devastated.
Ishinomaki City in Miyagi Prefecture was one of those hit the hardest. As the quake tremors hit the city, waves over 10 meters (33 ft) high surged up from the nearby Kitakamigawa River, killing more than 3,000 people and razing 20,000 homes. Reconstruction has been slow during the last five years, with governmental officials misappropriating restoration funds to push whaling and tourism instead of rebuilding the Ishinomaki community.
Recently, the community commissioned Koishikawa Architects for a memorial that would remember those lives lost in the great tragedy. This circular fan-shaped monument is built with hundreds of reused stone shingles taken from wrecked building sites, and is meant to stand as a symbol for dispersing prayers throughout the country. The Japanese believe firmly in praying for the dead, to guide their lost souls to a gentler fate and keep them from turning into vengeful spirits.
Each stone memorializes a single deceased Ishinomaki community member. A concave stainless steel plate at the memorial’s center is etched with a map of eastern Japan. Standing before the memorial, visitors can send their prayers out towards the entirety of eastern Japan, honoring deceased family members, friends, and strangers who have shared the same loss.