Japanese town grateful for Singapore's help after earthquake

Rikuzentakata, a coastal town in the Tohoku area of Japan, was one of the worst hit in the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

In September this year, I went there to participate in the Tour de Sanriku, a cycling event that was started in 2012 partly to boost tourism in the area.

I stayed with a local family, the Okamotos, who had to move to various temporary housing at least six times after they lost their home, before settling down in their current one.

Before the start of the homestay, Mrs Okamoto showed her guests around the Rikuzentakata Community Hall.

She made it a point to mention that the hall was built with donations from the people of Singapore, and that the locals were grateful.

As a show of appreciation, an auditorium in the community hall was named "Singapore Hall".

At the end of my homestay, Mrs Okamoto asked that I say "thank you" to Singaporeans for her, and I agreed.

So, to everyone in Singapore who helped in the reconstruction effort through their donation or other contributions, this is a message from Rikuzentakata: Thank you.

Ang Yeow Sien