Riku Café – bringing communities together in Rikuzentakata
In 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake lay waste to vast areas of northern Honshu, Japan’s largest island. One such area was the tsunami-stricken city of Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, whose surviving residents were left living in temporary accommodation and with few opportunities to gather and rebuild morale. In January 2012, community-run Riku Café opened its doors with the aim of providing a “living room for the city” and a space to facilitate the community’s revival. The project was conceived by local residents and made a reality by supporters from the world of academia, corporate sponsors and a variety of individuals.
Tokyo-based architectural practice Naruse Inokuma Architects designed the café as a simple wooden structure in order to minimize construction time. A series of sliding glass doors were installed to create transparency, allowing a clear view of the simple, open interior and inviting those outside to join the social activities inside. In late 2014, Riku Café was rebuilt as a permanent facility and continues to play an important role in the community today.