Shining the Light of Recovery
The ‘El Faro’ Trailer Hotel

Hinako Kimura | 1st year, Kadonowaki Junior High School

The ‘El Faro’ Trailer Hote

Shimizu Village in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, was engulfed by an 18m-high tsunami at the time of the Eastern Japan Great Earthquake Disaster of 11th March 2011. The village lost almost everything. My grandparents used to live in Shimizu Village. The village is actually quite far from the sea, so, not thinking the tsunami would reach them, they didn’t evacuate, and were swept away. One year and 9 months later, when there were still vacant lots wherever you looked, the ‘El Faro’ trailer hotel opened its doors on 27th December 2012. Why was it set up it in such an empty place? I went to speak to the manager of the trailer hotel, Onagawa Housing Cooperative Board Chairman Satoko Sasaki.

The name ‘El Faro’ comes from the Spanish word for ‘lighthouse’. The Galicia Region of Spain had suffered a tsunami in the same way as Onagawa did, and had recovered. And just as Onagawa does, it has a flourishing fishing industry.

Ms Sasaki loves Onagawa. She set up El Faro in Onagawa in order to bring back health and happiness back to the town The trailer hotel is painted in pastel colours – a colourful palette of yellow, pale blue, pink and green. Previously, Onagawa had no colour. So, she used pastel colours in order to brighten up the mood of the town.

Since the earthquake up till now, there has been nowhere to stay in Onagawa. “I want to provide a roof for people working for the reconstruction effort and for people who have lost their homes in the tsunami and have returned to Onagawa but have nowhere to stay.” Ms Sasaki says. Masato Sato, a reporter on the Kanagawa Newspaper, who stayed at the El Faro, said: “Looked at from the outside, you can see it’s a trailer, but go inside and you wouldn’t know it. Everything looks just like it would in an ordinary hotel: the amenities, the heating, the facilities.”

How has Onagawa changed two years after the earthquake and tsunami? “The people have become united, and compared with other regions, the clearing up has progressed much more quickly” Ms Sasaki continues. “When I saw a truck full of fish caught from the sea around Onagawa, I felt that the town had finally got back to normal.”

“The children’s energy inspires the adults. Even if the parents are depressed, by looking at their children they become happy, so I always want the children to smile. Whatever happens, it’s the children whose future it is. I want them to become adults who own their town.” Why don’t you also come and stay at El Faro?

1.The El Faro logo
2. The interior is bright and comfortable.
3. Board Chairman Satoko Sasaki
4. The numbers on the trailers all have different designs.
5.The trailers are very colourful.