Yamamoto Town Ruins of the Great East Japan Earthquake: Nakahama Elementary School

Disaster prevention education facility that conveys the threat of the Great East Japan Earthquake to future generations

The Nakahama Elementary School has been preserved as it was at the time of the disaster, serving as the only earthquake memorial in the southern part of the prefecture.
The school building stands 400 meters from the coastline. Shortly after the earthquake, 90 people, including students and local residents who had evacuated to the school, were inside the building. As the arrival time of the expected tsunami approached, the principal chose to evacuate everyone to the rooftop of the school building rather than moving everyone inland to a designated evacuation center. The tsunami nearly reached the second-floor ceiling, isolating Nakahama Elementary School in the tsunami sea, but all 90 people were safe on the rooftop.
Visitors can enter the damaged school building, see the attic warehouse where children and local residents spent the night, listen to storytellers recount memories and the traces of the tsunami, or watch video footage taken at the time. The facility promotes learning about the importance of vigilance and disaster preparedness.
Decisions about how to preserve the site and how to design it as a memorial and educational facility went through a careful process of discussion involving residents, teachers, and experts. Elements including the sundial monument in front that gets visitors to think about and feel the passage of time were brought together into an integrated design that has won high praise. For both the design and the process, the site received the Good Design Award in 2020 (sponsored by the Japan Institute of Design Promotion) and the Good Design Best 100 award for best design practice excellence. At an online award ceremony, it was later awarded a Good Focus Award in the category of Disaster Prevention and Reconstruction Design, making it a double winner.

Language available: English
• The leaflet is available in both Japanese and English.
• Some exhibits are available in both English and Japanese.
• A video with English subtitles (12-13 minutes) is available.
• An English handbook is available for a fee.

General Information

Fee required (see the facility’s website for details)
Opening Times
9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (last admission at 4:00 p.m.)
Mondays (the following day if Monday is a holiday), December 28–January 4
About a 25-minute walk from Sakamoto Station on the JR Joban Line (Rental bicycles are also available at Sakamoto Station and at Yamamoto Yume Ichigo-no-Sato.)
     About 10 minutes by car from the Yamamoto Minami Smart IC on the Joban Expressway
Official Website


Telephone Number