Students, parents and local residents were invited to see the new Miyanomori Elementary School building on Jan. 9 in Higashi-Matsushima, Miyagi Prefecture. An inauguration ceremony was held in the school's gym on the same day, ahead of the resumption of classes the following day. (Yosuke Fukudome)

HIGASHI-MATSUSHIMA, Miyagi Prefecture--Schoolchildren welcomed a fresh start to the year on Jan. 10 in a bright and stylish new school building here that replaces one destroyed by the tsunami almost six years ago.

The facility, sporting a modern design that doesn't look like a school, was completed on Jan. 9 in the coastal Nobiru district, which was devastated in the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

City-run Miyanomori Elementary School was formally founded last spring with the merging of Nobiru and Miyato elementary schools.

The school, which sits on the site near the former Nobiru Elementary School, was completed and inaugurated on Jan. 9, just in time for the start of the final term of the senior students’ sixth and final elementary school year.

Some of those students had until now known only the temporary pre-fab building that had been pressed into service since they entered elementary school.

“The old pre-fab building had poor soundproofing, so we had to walk slowly in the corridors," said sixth-grader Koharu Abe. "But now we do not have to worry about it too much.”

The building, two stories in some places, is made of wood. About 5,000 pieces of timber were used, and the design retains the natural feel of the construction material by leaving posts and beams exposed.

The 143 students of the school resumed their studies in the new classrooms on Jan. 10.