Whilst not the easiest sightseeing spot to reach, the 'Ganbarō Ishinomaki' (がんばろう石巻) sign located in the coastal Minamihama area is an important stop on any visit to Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture.
What was initially hastily erected as a way to galvanise the morale and fighting spirit of the survivors devastated by the events of March 11th, 2011 ('Ganbarō' means 'let's do our best') has now become a lasting memorial to those lost that day and a sign of the ongoing efforts and continual strength that Ishinomaki exhibits in its long-term reconstruction plans.
Alongside the sign itself, you'll also find Tsunagu-kan (つなぐ館), located in a temporary prefab building. Opened in March 2014, it has a great deal of information and records from the Great East Japan Earthquake and the ongoing recovery since. Open on weekends and holidays, 10am–3pm, entry is free to visitors. You'll also come across several smaller memorials, as well as stark reminder of the tsunami itself: a 6.9m-high pole designating the height the tsunami reached in this area.
Minamihama has come a long way since 2011, with plans to transform the immediate area into a park slowly progressing. It's obviously a strategic decision—a flood control system for the future—but as with the vast concrete seawalls going up out in the bay, there's an obvious threat to the identity of what makes Ishinomaki what it is, and it is not necessarily popular with all the local people here.
You can get here by rental cycle or car, but as you might expect the road/land infrastructure is changing a lot. Nevertheless, don't let this deter you from making this important visit to Minamihama.
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