One of the topics in the recent IFLA newsletter was the role that landscape architects can play in the reconstruction of Japan. Here is an edited extract

Rebuilding Japan

This is the third time that Japan has been hit by a huge earthquake since the profession of landscape architecture gained recognition here. The first was the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923; the second was the Hanshi-Awaji earthquake of 1995. After each event, we have picked ourselves up and reconstructed our cities and landscapes from piles of wreckage.

People in the Tohoku region have confronted the natural environment for hundreds of years. For instance, they rerouted a river (R Kitagami) and ran canals along the coast (Teizan canal). These landscapes have developed over time, with careful reading of the power of nature. Old Shrines and ancient passageways were undamaged. On the other hand, those which were built without thorough thought given to nature’s rules and overlooking history, have been washed away.

The current Japanese economic climate is grim and Japan’s decline in the world economy is unavoidable. We have not managed to solve the nuclear plant problems and the burden will surely eat up our current savings. In such a difficult time, IFLA Japan will continue to work with hope and a positive mindset.

The Japanese Institute of Landscape Architecture organised a reconstruction support committee for the Tohoku earthquake and conducted the primary site survey beginning in late April and throughout early May.

The 10 survey teams consisted mainly of experts who belong to universities and surveyed a large area from the coastline inland. This was followed by a meeting on 21 May, in which the survey report and future considerations for reconstruction were discussed.

Additionally, after the earthquake, each university’s landscape school voluntarily visited the stricken areas and began their own studies and research on site, making suggestions on reconstruction.

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