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Requirements for creating a tourist resource from the Teizan Canal

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Certain conditions are required to exploit the Teizan Canal as a tourism resource.

1. Ensuring safety
When a tsunami is imminent, the best strategy for survival is to swift escape (run away inland and/or to high ground). For tourists visiting the Teizan Canal, it is essential to provide information and instructions for an efficient and safe escape route to a suitable emergency shelter. Ensuring tourist safety is paramount.

2. Returning the canal and its environment to its former glory
When the Teizan Canal was constructed, the water was very clean and the canal bed was free from silt and other obstructions. Unfortunately, as time passed until the recent disaster, the water quality deteriorated and the water depth became greatly reduced from its original condition because of silting. Also, abandoned boats sank and much rubbish and pollution accumulated on the canal bed, reducing the navigable depth of the water. The environment of the Teizan Canal has deteriorated badly.

The tsunami probably changed the environment of the Teizan Canal but it is unclear whether or not this was a change for the better. Anyway, if the canal is used as a tourist resource, it will definitely need to be returned to its former beauty. This requires (1) improvement of water quality; (2) regaining the original water depth; by (3) removal of accumulated debris.

3. Restoring the natural environment
Around the Teizan Canal before the disaster, the natural environment was very rich: there were beaches, tidal flats, lagoons, saltmarshes and a margin of black pine trees along the landward side of the canal. Included were a number of irreplaceable habitats containing plant communities, birds and aquatic animal life. The canal was also an important reservoir of biodiversity.

These natural features were abruptly destroyed by the tsunami. At the same time, destruction of the black pines also destroyed a natural barrier against intrusions from the ocean as well as the harmonious habitat that it provided for the wildlife living there. Efforts must be made to revive the natural habitats and maintain them if we are to use the Teizan Canal as a tourism resource.

4. Maintaining the canal as a waterway
The canal has a unique history in its function for transporting a variety of goods without exposure to the rough coastal seas of the open ocean. As with any canal, the water surface is very calm and there are no strong currents. This provides perfect conditions for interaction with the canal as a waterway and its associated facilities. For the tourism functions of the canal, it is very important to enable, facilitate and maximize such interaction.

At present, reconstruction of the canal has begun and, of course, the first priority is restoration of the Teizan Canal and facilitation of its role in alleviating future natural disasters. However, we also need to re-enable and facilitate interactions with the canal as a waterway by considering the revival of its associated facilities, such as its wharves, fishing areas and footpaths.

5. Retaining the value of historical heritage
During the long interval since its original construction, the structure of the canal has begun to deteriorate. In addition, many of its seawalls, for example, were badly damaged by the tsunami. In restoring these structures, it is strongly hoped that repairs can be made in line with the original construction (rather than using concrete) by using large stone blocks, in keeping with the original style and to maintain its historical value.

The historical heritage includes Ishii lock gate and the remains of the abandoned Nobiru Port. We must encourage retention of these features of the canal’s historical heritage and include them as tourism resources.

6. Create an environment to encourage tourism
Many facilities require reconstruction in order to successfully attract tourists, such as toilets, information centres, parkland, land to stage various special events, and car parks. These are all facilities of relatively small size. Also required are large-scale facilities such as hotels and restaurants, and of course including appropriate and convenient access roads. However, in preparing such facilities, attention must be paid to the adjacent environment and landscape.

Careful preparation is also important in carrying out the reconstruction because of space and legal restrictions.

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