Disaster-hit school building reopens as memorial site

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A visitor looks inside a disaster-ravaged classroom at the former site of an elementary school in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, on Sunday.

ISHINOMAKI, Miyagi — A disaster memorial opened Sunday on the grounds of an elementary school in Miyagi Prefecture that was badly damaged in the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

Kadonowaki Elementary School was located in an area of Ishinomaki that was hit by tsunami up to seven meters high, with waves reaching the height of the school’s first-floor ceiling.

Burning houses and other debris uprooted by tsunami waves collided with the school building, causing a fire that gutted most of the three-story concrete structure.

Evacuees who had assembled at the school building, including teachers, officials and local residents, managed to escape before the fire broke out.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The main building of the former Kadonowaki Elementary School

Eleven years on from the disaster, the ravaged state of a teacher’s office and classrooms can be observed from walkways installed outside the structure. Visitors cannot enter the school building.

Footage of interviews with students, teachers, school officials and local residents can be viewed in another building at the site, which also has models and posters that explain the catastrophic scale of the damage caused by the disaster.

The facility opens from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is closed on Mondays.