Funding awarded for Japan Design Workshop

The work of the Japan 3.11 Initiative continues strongly throughout this coming summer, and organizations are recognizing the importance of this work.

The MIT Japan Design Workshop has been awarded a grant from the TOSHIBA INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION for the project Beyond 2020_nx, for continuing workshops in Tohoku and to fund a film documentary on the future form of communities in the region.

In addition, the Alfred Kunstadter Family Foundation and the American Chamber of Commerce Japan ACCJ has also awarded funding for the MIT Japan Workshop of Summer 2014, located in Rikuzen-Takata, Iwate Prefecture.

Year Two of the Initiative

To summarize the Initiative’s work in its second year of operation, we have produced a publication that gives a concise and visual overview of our Year Two activities.  From built projects like the Baba-Nakayama Garden Pavilione to interdisciplinary dialogues such as the March symposium at the University of Tokyo, the Initiative has been actively engaged in its continued collaboration with the people of Minamisanriku.

Special thanks goes to the Japan Foundation’s Center for Global Partnership for providing the necessary funding for much of this work.  The publication can be viewed here.

Shun Kanda and Matthew Bunza speak at Columbia University / Barnard College in New York

On the 2nd anniversary of the Great Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, MIT Japan 3.11 Initiative director Shun Kanda, along with Matthew Bunza (Lecturer in Architecture at MIT) took part in a symposium at Columbia University / Barnard College entitled, “The Great East Japan Earthquake: Creative Responses & Social Imagination.”

Great East Japan Earthquake March 10, 2013 Symposium, Part 2 of 8 – Matthew Bunza & Shun Kanda (MIT) – YouTube

Alongside other speakers such as Chim↑Pom, Jake Price, Shimpei Takeda, Yuhei Suzuki, Alisa Prager, Kirsten Homma, Susan J. Onuma, Dr. Robert Yanagisawa, and Dr. Shunichi Homma; the symposium highlighting the diverse ongoing efforts of the respective speakers, asked questions about role of creative response, and reminded us all of the enormity of the work still left to be done in Tohoku.

Special thanks to Daiyu Suzuki, Nat Andreini, and the Consortium for Japan Relief for making the event possible.

More info can be found at:

About the Symposium | NYJAPAN311 | Consortium for Japan Relief

NTTdocomo funds Visualizing Iriya project

Visualizing Iriya:「生きてくる入谷物語」

NTTdocomo タブレットを活用した被災地復興プロジェクト
a joint project with NTTdocomo & MIT Japan 3.11 Initiative 入谷の人に、会いに行こう。

南三陸町の入谷という土地が元来もつ性質、及び歴史的な価値を、地域の生活空間や自然空間等の、緑地、 または自然環境と構造物の総体としての環境を認識し、失われつつある地域独特の生活文化を呼び起こす。 入谷の中で、時間を過ごし、場を感じとり、地元の人と出会う。口から口へと伝えられてきたこの土地に まつわる伝承、民話に関してヒアリングする。ひとつの土地にまつわる話しはひとつと限らない。尋ねる 人、場所によって変化される幾つもの話しを、できる限り集めることを目指す。


部分であり、尋ね歩くよそ者との交流そのものこそが、縮小しつつあるまちに暮らす地元の方1人1人の活 気を起こす。プロジェクトの仮定、引いていは実用化時点での、本プロジェクトの地元に対する貢献の成果 として、今後長く役立のではないかと思う。

上で得られるアウトプットに合わせて、タブレットというデジタルデバイスを利用し、訪問者の入谷体験に どのような面白みを提供できるか。入谷を訪れた人々を、ファンとならしめ、再び訪れる理由を起こすもの は何か。

タブレットというポータブルデバイスだからこそ、情報を提供する地元側と受ける側との個別、Face to Face の出会いの機会を作ることが可能ではないか。受け入れられる範囲での人の現在地のマッピング、訪問者が そうした語り部を担う地元の人を、訪れられるシステムつくりを提案する。その他にも、タブレット利用の 可能性として、QR コード等の利用による現地に足を運ばなければ得られない情報の提供、過去の体験談や 地域住民の体験談のデータベース化、GPS システムと連動した人々の現在地情報の提供等、また、Twitter や Facebook と連動した、訪問後のユーザーの体験のシェアシステムを想定する。

以上を、復興支援活動に端を発し、実用化に向ける本プロジェクトの地元へ還元されうる効果とする。人と 人を結ぶ尋ね歩きのスタイルを可能にすることで、入谷の人を元気にできる。

Visualizing Iriya
Based on a map depicted entirely in text the original names of places in the mountain valley village of Iriya, Minamisanriku, this project will bring to life its unique historical relationships to past folklore including past tsunamis. Iriya lies at the foot of Tatsugane-yama (El.512m) inland from Shizugawa Bay and occupies an important place both in morphological and ethnological evolution within the greater Tohoku history. Much of this information has been lost however to the present generation of residents. The goals of this project is to utilize digital mapping techniques and the use of NTTdocomo tablet devices in the hands of local people to enliven its power of place amidst the gloom in the aftermath of 3.11.

MIT Japan 3.11 Initiative Team member Eric, in Minamisanriku, uses an NTT docomo Tablet to aid in their field work.


Taking notes and documentation with the tablet during a group meeting
MIT team members meet with local Japanese students in Iriya.
The MIT team spends some quality time with villagers in Iriya.


MIT Architecture graduate student Tyler with the NTT docomo Tablet back on campus.


Commemorating the 2nd anniversary of 3.11

To commemorate the 2nd anniversary of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, the Japan 3/11 Initiative team designed and installed a 20 meter high banner in the MIT Media Lab building lobby (Building E14).  The banner visualizes the average height of the tsunami waves as they hit land in the Minami Sanriku area.  The banner continues to the 5th floor, where both there and on the first floor passersby could read more.

Photos by J. Ira Winder

Students present gifts in Minami-Sanriku

MIT DUSP student Samira Thomas and MIT ACT Professor Jegan Vincent de Paul with students in Minami-Sanriku.
In the last week of March 2012, a small group of students from the MIT ACT class ‘Artistic Intervention: Creative Responses to Conflict and Crisis,’ taught by Jegan Vincent de Paul, visited Minami-Sanriku over their spring break to present gifts to the people there.  The gifts were conceived and designed by students this past Fall.  The gift called “There is a village” was given to a group of 10 primary school-age children on Thursday March 29th in the town of Minami Sanriku. It was given at a children’s care center located within a  temporary housing area in the town. It was given by MIT ACT Prof. Jegan Vincent de Paul, Samira Thomas (an MIT student) and Professor Yoshihiro Hiraoka from Miyagi University in Japan. The second gift titled “A Ritual for Memory” was received by Prof. Yoshihiro Hiraoka and will be given to a junior high school class when they return to school from spring break this month.  The giving was facilitated by Prof. Shun Kanda of MIT and Prof. Yoshihiro Hiraoka of Miyagi University, who are both Collaborating Directors of the MIT Japan 3/11 Initiative.

The Initiative in Architectural Record

MIT Program Comes to Aid of Post-Tsunami Japan

The Initiative has been in the public eye, most recently as a feature in Architectural Record.  The article is a thoughtful and thorough overview of the group’s activities to date.  Accompanying the article is a slideshow with some great photos, showcasing important developments from Year One.