Michinoku Homeward: Walking toward Northeast

ドキュメンタリー

「Michinoku Homeward: Walking toward Northeast」は、この地域出身の日本人写真家による主観的なアプローチでの、深く個人的なドキュメンタリー写真プロジェクトだ。みちのく、つまり東北での震災から10年が経った2021年、私は街道を400kmに渡って歩いた。これは、ジャーナリズムの時事性と私のふるさとへのやや詩的な目線を持った写真ドキュメンタリーだ。

2011年は、我がふるさとを震災が襲った忘れ得ない年。地震、津波、そして原発事故が約2万人のいのちを奪った。私は東北で生まれ育った人間として何もできない自分の無力さに打ちのめされた。アーティストとして私が唯できることは、その年の夏にシベリア鉄道と船で約1か月かけて帰り、ふるさとまでの物理的、そして心理的な距離を測ることだけだった。
2021年。新たな意図をもってこのプロジェクト「Michinoku Homeward: Walking toward Northeast」をスタートさせた。正式には江戸時代初期に設定された歴史的な街道を、東京の日本橋からみちのくの我がふるさとまで、古い方法、つまり徒歩で400kmを旅した。福島の東京電力のエリアにも行ったが、誰も住めなくなったその光景に愕然とするばかりだった。人々が去ってしまった場所に福島政府が新たな道路を作っているのも混乱させられる眺めだった。
2021年は、コロナの影響で遅延され、人々の大きな反対にも関わらず開催された東京オリンピックの年でもあった。国民の目を福島の不都合な真実からそむけるために日本と東京の政府が作り出したオリンピックの熱狂から離れ、私は北に向かって歩いた。
3時間半の新幹線での移動ではなく、震災から10年目のこの時間をかけた旅の私のモチベーションは、1か月間歩いて我がふるさとを密接に観察することだった。この昔ながらの旅の方法により、この国の進歩あるいは後退を間近に観察することになった。
ふるさとまでの道のり、そこで出会った人々、そして我が家を撮影した。この写真プロジェクトは、回復の道を求め、変わりゆく、あるいは消えゆく我がふるさとを捉えている。

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South of Otawara city. Part of the major power line used to transmit power from Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant to Tokyo.

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2021 was also a memorable year: 80 years after the Pacific War broke out. Also, April 29, 2021, the celebration day of Showa-era, or 120th birthday of former Emperor Hirohito, born in 1901. On this day, at Yasukuni Shrine dedicated for the dead soldiers including war criminals, Mr. Taniguchi from Aizu-Wakamatsu in Fukushima was playing his ocarina in front of Rising Sun Flag, performing the songs that were popular among the military during the war.

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On the way to Soka, Saitama

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School children on their way home. Near Kasukabe, Saitama

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Eugene from Cameroon, works with ambiguous work & residence permit in Soka. After Covid-19 outbreak, he lost his work at a car factory and now works for a local recycling service. "It is very difficult for foreigners to apply for residence or work permit in Japan. I wish I could work here as a car trader, exporting used cars to Cameroon.”

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Mr. Enomoto. A man wearing “knickerbockers,” meaning that he works as a builder or a scrapper. Koga city, Saitama

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Mrs.Takahata, 87 yeas old, collecting green onion seeds for the next season. She is happy to provide vegetables for her family. Shirakawa, Fukushima

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Dead snake, Nihommatsu city, Fukushima

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Shichigashuku Dam, built in the 1980’s to 1990’s. For this construction, one village with 158 houses sunk under water. Miyagi prefecture

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14 year old junior high-school student, Shinobu Bridge, Fukushima city

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Mrs. Yokoyama, 86 years old, likes to work outside. She was pulling up the weeds in an empty lot.
Yokoyama had to evacuate from Namie to Kori town after the TEPCO accident, and now she will stay here for the rest of her life.

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Jizō bodhisattva statues are often seen along the historical routes all over Japan.

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Even older route from the beginning of the 17th century, connecting Yamagata and Miyagi, eventually to Tokyo.

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Entrance gate to Osuwa Shrine, Kaminoyama, Yamagata prefecture

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Mr. Kumagai, Shinto priest, Manzo Inari Shrine, Shiroishi, Miyagi. This shrine was established in the 18th century for the safety of travelers and also for working horses carrying loads along the route. Many horses lost lives while carrying loads in the mountain.

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I arrived my home just before sunset on Sep 11. Yasumasa and Mieko, my parents welcoming their daughter's home coming on their vegetable field.

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Trees died of Tsunami in March 2011. They are still left there in Namie town, Fukushima

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Masami Yoshizawa's farm in Namie. Yoshizawa rescued and now is taking care of more than 200 cows and bulls that were destined to be killed after being exposed to radiation.

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An abandoned house, Futaba, Fukushima. Less than 10 km from TEPCO Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

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Newly paved road, yet hardly any cars. Road constructions are going on near TEPCO area though there is nobody living in this area after the nuclear accident in 2011. Futaba town, Fukushima

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“I lived in Nihonmatsu city for 8 years after the disaster. I missed my home, Namie, so I came back. But younger people can’t come back because there is no work for them. This town has changed a lot. Houses disappeared, and there are unfamiliar apartments for construction workers.” Mrs. Oyama, Namie

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Closed Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant of TEPCO, viewed from 5 km north. Tops of metal towers are somehow visible behind the hill. Futaba town, Sep, 2021