Foreign Students Among 300 at Michinoku Coastal Trail Event; Participants Walk in Miyagi Prefecture Despite Rain

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Participants walk by the Teizan Canal in Wakabayashi Ward, Sendai, heading toward the goal of a walking event on Sunday.

SENDAI — The fifth anniversary of the full opening of the Michinoku Coastal Trail, a nature trail that links the four prefectures of Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, was celebrated on Sunday with a walking event.

Despite bad weather due to the start of the rainy season, about 300 participants joined the event — the Michinoku Coastal Trail Walk in Sendai Natori with Pokemon Local Acts — in Natori and Sendai, both in Miyagi Prefecture. They walked along streets still recovering from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and along the Teizan Canal associated with the feudal lord Date Masamune (1567-1636).

The Michinoku Coastal Trail stretches about 1,000 kilometers from Hachinohe in Aomori Prefecture to Soma in Fukushima Prefecture. Developed by the Environment Ministry to promote recovery from the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011, the trail was fully opened in June 2019.

Participants in Sunday’s event took either a short course of about 4 kilometers, traveling round trip from the Natori Trail Center in Natori to the Kawa Machi Terasu Yuriage commercial facility, or a longer route of about 10 kilometers to the JR Fruit Park Sendai Arahama tourist farm in Wakabayashi Ward, Sendai.

“I hope you’ll enjoy the atmosphere of Natori as you walk,” Natori Mayor Shiro Yamada told participants at the opening ceremony of the event.

Clad in rain gear and using umbrellas, participants took photos of the scenery from the Natori River embankment and ate local delicacies at the commercial facility and the morning market.

An 8-year-old third grader from Natori who completed the 10-kilometer walk with his mother said, “The rain was heavy and it was tough, but I’m really happy to have finished the walk.”

“The path [of the trail course] was well-maintained and easy to walk. I stopped by the morning market and ate octopus rice,” said a 57-year-old company employee from Shichigaham.

Participants who completed the walk had the opportunity to take commemorative photos with popular Pokemon characters like Pikachu, in addition to Lapras, a Pokemon character that supports Miyagi Prefecture. These mascots attracted many families.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Participants in the walking event take photos with Pikachu, right, and Lapras, in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, on Sunday.

Indonesian students pay tribute to victims

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Two Indonesian students from Tohoku University walk in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, on Sunday.

Two Indonesian students studying at Tohoku University walked the shorter course on Sunday. A 21-year-old senior in the Faculty of Agriculture and a 28-year-old first-year graduate student in the Graduate School of International Cultural Studies stopped by a monument honoring the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

They also visited public housing for disaster recovery, which can also serve as an evacuation shelter in the event of a tsunami, and a water gate. At the turnaround point of the course, Kawamachi Terrace Yuriage, they took photos with the scenery of the Natori River and the Pacific Ocean in the background.

“I’ve learned the immense effort that the local people have put into recovery [from the 2011 disaster]. I hope many people will visit Tohoku,” the 21-year-old student said. The 28-year-old said that her family home in Aceh, located in western Indonesia, was affected by the 2004 earthquake off the coast of Sumatra.

She added: “It’s amazing that there’s a trail where you can enjoy the beauty of nature while learning about disaster preparedness. Aceh is also rich in natural beauty. I hope we can have a trail like this there.”