The manufacturers planned to supply slate plates to rebuild the historic red brick façade and dome roof of the railway station to pre-World War II damage during Allied bombings. Then the earthquake and the tsunami struck, burying the products under water and mud.
Fearing delays, the construction company in charge of the Tokyo Station redevelopment searched for alternative sources and transferred their order for the plates to a Spanish supplier. But the Ishinomaki manufacturers refused to admit defeat. Even though their buildings had been flooded, and most employees’ homes damaged, they fought against the use of the Spanish slate on Tokyo Station.
The people of Tokyo who heard about the story organized a petition and presented it to the station planners. The slate makers said it was better to make their own destiny than to urge people to pray for them.
“It will bring hope to them if their plates are resurrected from the mud and used in Japan’s main station,” said Mayumi Mori, a representative of the citizens’ group working to preserve the station’s red bricks.
By the end of May, the Ishinomaki slate workers had recovered all of the slate plates and washed and checked each one for damage. They retrieved a whopping 55,000 plates. The plates are now ready to be installed.
East Japan Railway Co. said it will use all the slate plates that were saved. Reconstruction of Tokyo Station will be completed in 2013. And it will be finished using Tohoku slate, thanks to the persistence of the Ishinomaki manufacturers.
Toshiya Yotsukura, who was involved in the project, commented on the case, alluding to the Tokyo Electric Power Co. spokesman who claimed that a tsunami such as the one that struck on March 11 would only strike once a millennium.
”The 250 million year-old stone wasn’t going to be beaten by a once-in-a-thousand-years tsunami,” Yotsukura said.