On the occasion of our 30th anniversary

NPO Onogawa and Sawara Townscape Association President Kentara Sato   

In the old government office building of Sawara City, a room with creaking floors and the smell of preservatives, weekly meetings were held to study the local history of the townscape. Thirty years have passed since we established our association with the goal of being selected as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings, hoping that we would receive a subsidy for repairing our own house and attract tourists. In this document, we will describe how we have dealt with the natural disasters we have suffered in the last 10 years.  In 2008, the number of visitors to the Exchange Center reached 150,000, the number of town tours exceeded 500 per year, and the average number of visitors to the antique market was 1,500 each time. On March 11, 2011, the city was hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake, and one building designated by the national government and 13 buildings in 8 prefectural tangible cultural properties were found to have collapsed roof tiles and cracked walls. In addition, most of the buildings in the Jyudenken and Keikan districts and about 6,000 buildings in the city were damaged by liquefaction.  The secretariat members accompanied the city’s damage survey and listened to the residents’ stories and the damage situation. Mr. Takahashi, the chairman of the board of directors, surveyed the damage to the buildings designated by the prefecture and the buildings in the Jyudenken area, and considered the measures to be taken for reconstruction. After that, the owners of the prefectural designated buildings launched the “Chiba Prefecture Tangible Cultural Properties Protection Association” and negotiated with Chiba Prefecture to increase the subsidy rate.  Three years have passed, the blue sheets on the damaged buildings are no longer visible, and the days of peace and quiet have come, although the number of visitors has not reached the level of the past. The year changed to 2019on September 9,  Typhoon No. 15 caused long-term power outages, water and communication problems, and record-breaking winds toppled willow trees along the Ono River. Typhoon No. 19 on October 12 of the same year caused a gust of wind that destroyed part of the building of the Kuboki family (formerly known as Aburaso) and knocked down the fence above the main building.  Many Self-Defense Force personnel were stationed in Sawara to wait for the possibility of the Tone River breaking in Katori City due to heavy rains upstream. I am very glad that the embankment was not breached.  As soon as we were relieved, the new coronavirus infection spread all over the world and a second state of emergency has been declared. The damage to the tourism industry has been particularly devastating, and all information services at the Sawara Machinami Exchange Center have been cancelled, and the number of visitors to the center has plummeted to 20-30% of the previous level.  Although I am worried about whether we will be able to return to the bustle of the past, the preservation and repair of the old Kawasaki Bank (Mitsubishi Building) will be completed in March 2022.  Even though the time has come for us to live together with Corona, we would like to introduce the proud cityscape of Sawara to many people, and will make further efforts together with all members and residents to establish a safe and secure system.  Finally, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the guidance and encouragement I have received from Katori City government, various organizations, and local residents. I would also like to conclude by saying that we have celebrated our 30th anniversary thanks to the guidance of our predecessors who gathered at the Mitsubishi Kan and Mr. Kase, the chairman of the board of directors who established the NPO, and Mr. Takahashi, the chairman at the time of the earthquake.