The Paper Dome Commemorates the Two Major Earthquakes in Taiwan and Japan

The Paper Dome Commemorates the Two Major Earthquakes in Taiwan and Japan
Photo Credit:Loucia Lou

What you need to know

Though the 921 earthquake in Taiwan occurred four years after the Kobe earthquake (also known as the Great Hanshin earthquake), they are linked together because of a church.

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On January 17, 1995, an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale hit Kobe, Japan. 67 thousand houses were destroyed and 4,500 people were killed.

On September 21, 1999, central Taiwan was hit by an earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale and led to over 50 thousand houses collapsing and 2,415 people killed. The incident is still unforgettable for many Taiwanese.

Though the 921 earthquake in Taiwan occurred four years after the Kobe earthquake (also known as the Great Hanshin earthquake), they are linked together because of a church.

阪神兵庫區民房密集地。Photo Credit:Akiyoshi's Room

Photo Credit: After the Kobe earthquake. Akiyoshi’s Room

921地震教育園區內被震毀的操場,車籠埔斷層切過此處。Photo Credit:Iv0202 CC BY SA 3.0

Running tracks that were destroyed in the 921 earthquake. Photo Credit:Iv0202 CC BY SA 3.0

Shortly after the Kobe earthquake, architect Shigeru Ban was living in Tokyo at the time and while constantly seeing images of the victims on the television, Ban asked himself, “What can I do as an architect?"

Ban immediately traveled to Nagata-ku, Kobe where 70 percent of the 900 houses had been destroyed and he came up with the idea of building a temporary church for the locals out of paper.

After receiving permission from the priest of the Takatori Catholic Church, Ban raised JP$ 10 million (approximately US$ 80 thousand) and completed the Paper Dome with the help of volunteers. The dome provided victims with a place to rest and welcomed people of all religions to gather there.

Photo Credit:Bujdosó Attila CC BY  SA 2.5

The Paper Dome. Photo Credit: Bujdosó Attila CC BY SA 2.5

Four years later, the 921 earthquake in Taiwan caused serious disaster and on the sixth day after the earthquake, a volunteer group that was formed after the Kobe earthquake called, “Kobe Genkimura," stationed in Puli, helped build prefabricated housing and shared their experiences of reconstruction and community development.

Photo Credit:USGS

Intensity map of the 921 earthquake. Photo Credit:USGS

In January 2005, Japan hosted the 10th anniversary of the Great Hanshin earthquake, and also invited Liao Jia-zhan, chief of the major reconstruction organization in the 921 earthquake, New Homeland Foundation, to the event.

According to the speech given at the event, because members of the Takatori Catholic Church have increased a lot, the Paper Dome’s mission has been fulfilled. Therefore, Taiwan and Japan have come up with the idea of moving the Paper Dome to Puli, Taiwan.

On January 25, 2008, more than a thousand participants assisted the official reconstruction of the Paper Dome in the Tao-mi Village, Puli, which combined local characteristics with the promotion of eco-tourism. The News Lens interviewed an interpreter of the church, Pan Yi-qi, who says it was difficult to develop eco-tourism in Tao-mi Village in the beginning. The Paper Dome entered the Tao-mi community in 2008 and generated discussion while infusing energy into the village. So far, the Paper Church has been an important learning platform for tourists.

The New Homeland Foundation has been promoting community development in Puli, inviting experts from different fields to discuss and find what the traits of Tao-mi Village are. Peng Gui-dong, a teacher of Asia University and former researcher of the Endemic Species Research Institute, found there are many species of frogs in the ecology system of Tao-mi Village. Peng started to lead the local people to recognize different types of frogs to cultivate local tour guides.

Pan Yi-qi says, “Eco-tourism must be accepted by the locals other than just being a way to earn money. We started out slow in the beginning and thought about the necessary elements for an outsider to get to know our environment. Many people believe promoting ecology is not a way to develop tourism, but Peng emphasizes it’s not impossible. It’s a matter of striking a balance between ecology and tourism."

The Tao-mi Eco-Village is a significant case of post-disaster reconstruction and community building, allowing visitors to commemorate the two earthquakes that took place more than ten years ago.

Photo Credit:PRO準建築人手札網站 CC BY 2.0

Photo Credit:PRO準建築人手札網站 CC BY 2.0

Translated by June and Olivia Yang
Edited by Olivia Yang


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