Ceremony closes temporary post-quake mall in Iwaki city

A makeshift shopping mall closed down at a banner-lowering ceremony in the Hisanohama-machi district of Iwaki city on March 31. The area was devastated by the 2011 earthquake and ensuing tsunami. Stores at the Hamakaze shopping mall are set to make a fresh start at their respective places elsewhere. The mall opened in September 2011 in the ground of Hisanohama Daiichi (first) Elementary School, accommodating 11 facilities, including an eatery, a barber’s shop and a fish store as well as a regional information hall and a local commerce and industry chamber. They had been patronized by local people for five years and a half as a symbol of the area’s post-disaster reconstruction. With land readjustment projects making headway in disaster-hit areas in the city and all stores seeing prospects of reopening elsewhere, the mall was shut down before summer when usage contracts were due to end. The ceremony was attended by shop owners, regional administration officials and other people concerned. "We have been able to come thus far thanks to support from all of you," said Toshikatsu Endo, a 53-year-old leader of the mall who has already resumed supermarket "Vchain Hataya" in the Hisanohama area of the Hisanohama-machi district. "We would like to continue working hard on the strength of happy memories here." Several people, including Yoshiyasu Endo, 58, who is scheduled to resume time-honored restaurant "Karasuya Shokudo" in the same Hisanohama area, lowered a banner long strung over the mall to symbolize an end to the shopping place. (Translated by Kyodo News)