Unforgettable photos, Memorable photos.
2011.07.02 update 2011.04 Taira district, Iwaki city (20‟s)
10 minutes walk to the sea. You still can see houses thrown away turned into pebbles and toles. She headed for Hisanohama (the name of the sea) once or twice a week with her daughter to feed cats with no master. On my way back from Hisanohama, as I can see the usual scenery inside from my car, it makes me feel like everything I saw was part of my dreams. This makes me feel awkward. Girls dressed up wearing short skirts walking down the streets near station. While, some people are still cleaning the place where used to be their home, and some are still looking for their lost family. This is today's Iwaki city. This is the place where she born in and grew up.
Few years ago, she decided to live with her only daughter by themselves. When they were struggling to live by themselves, that earthquake happened. Earthquake and hydrogen explosion. Her house is only 42km far away from Fukushima nuclear plant. "You will know children will bleed from their noses if they are exposed to radiation at once. While they were driven crazy about that explosion, they didn't stop exchanging information toward twitter. I noticed that I was supported by my friends.
"My friend said that if we were exposed, we are all together". That message made me feel comfortable, and I felt everything is alright which made me feel to stay in Iwaki.
However, she had a phone call from her father to evacuate to Yamagata prefecture in the morning of the 15th. "I'm worried about children, so come with me", said her father but she declined his advice, better to stay in Iwaki with her daughter. Not only her father but also her friends said to her, "better to evacuate from Iwaki".
I just wanted to stay. I felt really bad to evacuate leaving my friends in Iwaki. I felt guilty. I don't know why, but I wanted to be right beside them. Just staying together and encouraging each other.
"I'm sorry. I've got to go to Yamagata." I called my friends crying in the car which I just got to be by my father. "Just live. If we live, we can see each other again." My tears kept coming out by my friend's words.
When I was in Yamagata, I just can't help thinking about my friends. Checking information about Iwaki on Twitter, and I was just impatient with that I couldn't do anything. Stronger and stronger it made me feel willing to go back to Iwaki. "I want to do something for Iwaki." I considered for a few days whether I should go back or not. But, suddenly I thought what I can do is to take pictures what's happening. To take pictures of this reality. After 5 days staying in Yamagata, she decided to go back to Iwaki with her only daughter.
Driving back to Iwaki, she visited the photographer who always advices her about photos. He handed me every film which are to be sold, and said "you can use every films in my store. Take pictures".
I headed to Hisanohama. I went north by car while avoiding houses which were scooped out and had the first floor taken away by the Tsunami, houses with only the roofs remaining, and cars lying up side down on the streets. I've never seen this kind of scenery ever in my life. As it is the same in Iwaki, I just couldn't help being overwhelmed.
I don't know how many pictures I took. Too many images to take. She regretted for what she was doing for 2 weeks without doing anything. She couldn't help taking pictures of every image, every thing in detail. At the same time, I hesitated to take those stricken area when I think about people lost their lives there.
As her feelings were seen through, an elderly man cleaning rubble places, talked to her. "Please leave all these images in the photos." That one message made her feel stronger to take pictures of all images which the Tsunami had made. "As you are the one of people born and grew up in Iwaki, you had better see all these images which were made by Tsunami. You will change your feelings to involve recovery of Iwaki." She reminded this message by members taking pictures with her.
"I know I should do what I think is right. Even if someone blames me for what I'm doing, but I should decide for myself and put it in action. I will take all images, every detail in photos one by one, and to keep them in memories not to be forgotten. As I'm in Iwaki in accident, while too much people had lost their lives. And I know I was allowed to live. This is my role to bring down to next generations. Film will remain next hundreds years. I will leave all these things that happened here as a fact, and the history that earthquake happened in Iwaki".
She will keep taking pictures of her hometown Iwaki--Records of Iwaki, and above all things, she will take pictures which remain in our mind and our heart--.
Earthquake which drew out nature and "what people should be", and the existence of "friends". Delivering goods to children staying in the evacuation center. Doing something for somebody. Everyone gathers and laugh.
"What is the most important thing? It is to be healthy. I can't help people at least if I'm not healthy enough to live, right?" My friend told me that message which made me feel alright. It is important to keep not only water, and medicine but also disaster prevention goods. But, above all, the most important thing is that to care about myself. I don't have to keep an effort and try to live by myself. Lean on somebody. It is one of big conversions of consciousness. "I happened to face the earthquake, but I felt I was right to live in Iwaki. I have friends who we can lean on each other. That's why I want all children to live happily in Iwaki". She hopes.
Children's consciousness has been changing. They learn a lot from other children who came from Futaba, or Hisanohama and still can't go home and buy their own clothes. For their mothers, however, everyday struggling and thinking what would be the best thing for their children.
"I know exactly that radioactive substances are flying from the nuclear plants, and every student at school is told to wear their masks to avoid the radiation. Even 2 months has passed, however, a number of children wearing no masks are growing. A lot of children seem to not understand whether radioactive substances are dangerous or not. Even every day news has been told to them, and the reason is that those substances are invisible. There are no actual feelings, and every information talked about the substances, there is no way to understand them such as the number of the radioactive substances. Of course I'm worrying about whether my daughter will have cancer in 10 or
20 years from now, but to be honest, I don't know how to correspond to those substances".
She got a text message from the friend who are working to settle down all problems happened at the nuclear plants. "Finally I could get out from the nuclear plant." Meanwhile some friends can't go back to their own home and still stay in the evacuate center. Others have moved out from Iwaki.
Every feeling is a part of her mind--"whether to stay here or evacuate from this city, what is the best way to live".
"Every strong stimulation lead children to make a huge stress, and we want to avoid to be exposed by any rumors. Don't you think that children will get afraid if they hear they should wear masks, hats and clothes made by nyron? Of course I'm worrying about their lunch at school. Are vegetables really harmless to eat? How about milk? If we say so, I know children can't help worrying about it. That's why I won't say something that'll make the children anxious.
(Translated by Yurina Nezu)