“Michinoku Homeward: Walking toward Northeast” is a deeply personal documentary photo project with subjective approach by a Japanese photographer originally from the region. In 2021, 10 years after the disaster in Michinoku or Northeast Japan, I walked along the historical route going the distance of 400 km. This is a photo documentary with journalistic topicality and with somewhat poetic view towards my home.
2011, the unforgettable year of the disasters hitting my home. The earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear accident took about 20,000 lives. I was devastated by my powerlessness as a native. All I could do back then as an artist was only to go home with the slow and simple way of traveling; with Trans-Siberian trains and a ship, taking 1 month in summer of that year, measuring both physical and psychological distance to my home.
In 2021, I started this project “Michinoku Homeward: Walking toward Northeast” with my renewed intention. I traveled 400 km along the historical route, officially organized in the very beginning of the 17th century, from the 0 mile point in Tokyo to my home in Michinoku region by an ancient manner, walking. I also went to Fukushima Nuclear Plant area only to be shocked by the sights of uninhabited areas. It was also confusing to see the Government of Fukushima building new roads in the area where no resident was left.
2021 was also the year of Tokyo Olympic Games, delayed due to Covid19 and held despite the large protest. Leaving from the Olympic enthusiasm fabricated by the Japanese and Tokyo governments to turn away people’s eyes from the inconvenient truth of Fukushima, I walked northeastward.
Instead of a three and a half hour travel with a super express train, with this slow travel in the 10th year since the disaster, my motivation was to observe my home closely and intimately by walking for 1 month. This primitive manner of traveling gave me a chance to observe closely the land’s progress and/or regress.
I photographed the way home, the people I met on my way, and my home. This photo project captures my home at the verge of changing, hopefully recovering or disappearing, perhaps.