"Tokyo 2020 Recovery Monuments" workshops held in three Tohoku prefectures

Tsukushi Oka explaining the design
Tsukushi Oka explaining the design

The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) held “Tokyo 2020 Recovery Monuments” workshops from 19-22 August 2019 in three Tohoku prefectures. The one-day workshops were held at Asaka Reimei High School (Fukushima), Kesennuma Koyo High School (Miyagi), and Otsuchi High School (Iwate).

The “Tokyo 2020 Recovery Monuments” is a project carried out by Tokyo 2020, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG), Tokyo University of the Arts (Geidai), Iwate Prefecture, Miyagi Prefecture, Fukushima Prefecture and LIXIL Corporation to support reconstruction in the areas affected by the 2011 earthquake, by linking them with the world.

The monuments, which will be made from the aluminium used for the windows and frames of the temporary housing units in the affected areas, will be created by Geidai students along with local middle and high school students.

During the Tokyo 2020 Games, the monuments will be displayed at a Games-related venue for the athletes to see, and after the Games they will be displayed in recovering areas, along with autographs of athletes, as a Games legacy.

Design Selection

86 high school students from Fukushima, 84 middle and high school students from Miyagi, 90 high school students from Iwate and over ten Geidai students participated in the monument production project.

First the Geidai students presented five designs, from which one was selected by each of the three prefectures. The Geidai students explained the concept behind each design and the thoughts that went into them. The middle and high school students cast a vote to select the most appropriate design. As a result, Tskukushi Oka’s ‘face-fitted’ design was chosen for Fukushima, and Shione Fukui’s cut stone motif was chosen for Miyagi and Iwate.

Working Group Sessions

The students then worked on the font and design of the messages that would accompany the monument. The Fukushima team split up into 22 groups and the Miyagi team into 25 groups as each group discussed what they wanted to express and write. 

In Iwate, messages of gratitude toward supporters of the affected communities and words of encouragement for athletes were collected in advance from all 33 municipalities across the prefecture. The students split into 33 groups with each group assigned one municipality. The group then selected the strongest and most positive messages among the written submissions of the students and made designs out of them with accompanying illustrations. 

These message boards will be framed in aluminium and displayed in public along with the monument, touching the hearts of everyone who sees them.

The participating students were all beaming with smiles and said: “I wanted to thank everyone around the world for their warm support. Now it’s our turn to support the athletes,” and “I’m glad I could participate in such a valuable event as the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Geidai Professor Akanuma, who provided guidance and instruction to the students, said, “I was impressed with the wonderful sense of design and creativity of the middle and high school students. The Geidai students also learned a great deal by actually being in the affected areas and interacting with the local students. The monument will live on after the Games with the messages of the students and the athletes, so I hope we do a good job.”

The five design options presented by the Geidai students

Fukushima chose (4), while Miyagi and Iwate chose (5)