Rugby World Cup: How Japan 2019 host town Kamaishi is using event to rebuild after tsunami

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By Chris McLaughlin
BBC Scotland sports news correspondent
For one small city, 500 miles north of Tokyo, this Rugby World Cup’s existence means more than a celebration of sport.
Kamaishi is located in the province of Iwate and used to be best known for fishing, its steel business and also the 35,000 residents’ fascination with union, as it was home to the team that dominated Western infantry .
This was before March 11, 2011, however. That was the day that a enormous earthquake struck the country and triggered a devastating tsunami.
News footage from the time reveals cars bobbing throughout the roads and houses floating about like matchsticks in the rain, as well as the sight of individuals on a hillside desperately howling to their fellow townsfolk to operate as the sea invaded the roads, crushing everything in its path.
A total of 1,300 people died and the town was devastated. Many survivors took what they could salvage and abandoned, never to go back. But people who remained were decided to reconstruct.
To be washed away was that the college. It lay at the very heart of town, both physically and emotionally.
Because of a tsunami evacuation process that was well-established, the majority of the pupils made it but nothing remained of the construction.
In the months which followed, locals devised a plan that would offer a feeling of purpose to the city and restore a pride – and rugby was at its heart.
The Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium stands on the exact place where the college was washed off, having been constructed with the help of government investment designed to assist in the area’s recovery.
Many think it will be the most important, although Having a capacity of 16,000, it will be the tiniest of the World Cup places.
“We needed to construct something that would wholeheartedly hope for its future,” said arena manager Takeshi Nagata.
“It’s not just rebuilding something physically – it is about rebuilding hearts”
That opinion is echoed. She possesses a small inn that sits at the edge of the sea. When recounting her fatal encounter she smiles broadly.
“There was a feeling that’now is the day’,” she recalls. “We had been expecting it because we’d been told that a big earthquake could one day come out our way.
“As I tried to run for the hills, I was captured under the water.
“I looked at the sky and remember that it looked so pretty before I lost consciousness.”
Iwasaki was trapped beneath a van but was pulled clear by one of her customers who had made it to security. She wants Kamaishi to be recalled for rugby as opposed to a period of tragedy.
“I really don’t believe this city and the people might have made it during the last eight years when we did not have the World Cup to focus on,” she said.
Not everyone is in full agreement . As major government investment is ploughed into new roads around the stadium and World Cup infrastructure, some locals point towards these forced to reside in housing.
People who visit won’t fail to notice the sporting event will take place where disaster once struck, although the arena will host Fiji v Uruguay and Namibia v Canada.
The tsunami memorial situated outside Akiko’s inn also functions as warning.
The words etched right into the black granite rock read, only:”Just run! Run uphill! Do not worry about the others. Save yourself . And tell the generations that a tsunami once attained this point were the people who ran uphill. So run! Run uphill!”
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