2015: The Opening of a New Subway Line is a Milestone on a Japanese City’s Road to Recovery

December 6, 2015

In northeastern Japan, a new subway line began operations in the city of Sendai in the Tōhoku region. The east-west Tozai Line was the second of the Sendai Subway’s two lines to go into service, with the north-south Namboku Line having been opened in 1987. The Tozai Line encompasses a total of 13 stations, and it covers 8.6 miles (13.9 kilometers) between Arai Station in eastern Sendai’s Wakabayashi Ward and Yagimayama Dobutsu Koen Station in the Taihaku Ward in the western part of the city.

The 2015 opening of the Tozai Line kicked off when the first train departed from Arai Station. This inaugural event took on added significance because of a major disaster that had slammed the Tōhoku region more than four years earlier. The record-setting Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 triggered a powerful tsunami that swept through the Sendai area at 435 miles (700 kilometers) per hour. The city’s residents had a warning time of only eight to 10 minutes to evacuate, and over 19,000 people were killed. The Wakabayashi Ward was especially hit hard by the tsunami. (The Sendai Subway’s Namboku Line also experienced major damage and had to be shut down completely for several weeks for repairs.)

With Sendai’s residents continuing to recover from that massive tragedy and rebuild their communities in 2015, the opening of the Tozai Line was seen by many as a cause for optimism that the overall quality of life in the city was indeed steadily improving. Emiko Okuyama, the mayor of Sendai, highlighted this theme during her remarks at that Sunday ceremony for the new line. “The new line is a symbol of development for the disaster-hit Arai district,” she said. “I hope the Tozai Line will play a major role in leading the city.”

For more information on the Tozai Line of the Sendai Subway, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sendai_Subway_T%C5%8Dzai_Line.

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