Japan Railway & Transport Review No. 66 (Back cover)

New Japanese Railway Scenery 26
Ishinomaki Line

JR East’s Ishinomaki Line connects Kogota and Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture, north-east Japan. The line was opened on 28 October 1912 as a light rail connecting Kogota and Ishinomaki. Ishinomaki City, which lies halfway between Kogota and Onagawa, is well-known for its flourishing fishing industry. Ishinomaki Line was extended to Onagawa in 1939. The line was seriously damaged by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, especially in the coastal section between Ishinomaki and Onagawa. The tsunami swept away railcars, tracks, bridge girders and the Onagawa station building. It also damaged three other station buildings, embankments, signalling, telecommunication facilities, and electric poles. Operations were restarted section-by-section and the line was fully recovered on 21 March 2015, with the restart of operations on the last section between Onagawa and Urashuku.

Onagawa Station

The rebuilding of Onagawa Station was completed on 21 March 2015, 4 years after the station was almost annihilated in the March 2011 disaster. The station was relocated 200 meters inland from the previous site and was built on land raised by 5 to 7 meters. This project was carried out as the centrepiece of the municipal reconstruction plan which aims at developing a disaster-resistant and vibrant town centre. In addition to the train station, the three-storey station building contains retail shops, viewing deck, and municipal hot spring facility, ‘Yupopo’. The new station, designed by Shigeru Ban, the 2014 winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, is expected to be a starting point for the city’s overall reconstruction.

Photo: Ishinomaki Line near Onagawa Town
Photo: Old Onagawa Station after tsunami. Only the elevator shaft (centre) and rest room (white building, right) remained standing
Photo: Rebuilt Onagawa Station