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Let’s Hear Voices from Fukushima: “I feel like a tree in my garden is gone and my roots have been pulled out”

Vol. 41: Talk Session “Let’s Hear Voices from Fukushima! vol.41 Report (Part 2) “I feel like a tree in my garden is gone and my roots have been pulled out” (Kazue Watanabe)

October 26, 2022
Let’s Hear from Fukushima!” In the first part, Fumio Horikawa, who evacuated from the town of Namie in Fukushima Prefecture to Fuji City in Shizuoka Prefecture, spoke about his life before the disaster in Namie, at the time of 3/11, in the evacuation line and his current life at the evacuation site, intertwining his personal history with his companion Takako’s comments from time to time. In this issue, we would like to report on the second part. A video recording of the demolition of Mr. Horikawa’s house and the cutting down of trees on his property was shown, followed by a discussion between Mr. Horikawa and photographer Jun Nakasuji, who shot and edited the video.

The video was filmed and edited by photographer Jun Nakasuji, who also shot the video.

Fumio Horikawa
 Before you watch the video of the demolition of our house.
 This house was built by my father and mother in 1967. I was in the fifth or sixth grade at the time. Every day after school, I would stop by the building site to help out. My role was to carry two wheelbarrows of gravel from the nearby river to the site where the foundation had been dug. I did this every day without fail. It was also my daily job to polish the materials for the hallway and floor with a bag of rice bran.
 My father traveled around the country with the master carpenter to purchase building materials such as Kiso cypress, Akita cedar, and Aomori hiba (hiba). It was the first house built by my father, who was the third son of a poor farmer, and he and the master carpenter purchased the materials from all over the country.
 For me, too, it was a house that I helped build day in and day out. Therefore, I felt very strong resistance to dismantling the house, but due to the circumstances I have just described (in Part I), I was forced to sign the application for demolition. I then asked Mr. Nakasuji to record the “end-of-life care” of our house on video. I feel a little warmed and healed by the fact that he left this work of art.

Projection of “fine 2-2-A-219
 We watched Jun Nakasuji’s video work projected on the screen installed at the venue

The film was shot by Jun Nakasuji.
 In this video, the stakes that are driven into the cleared land at the end seem to be grave markers. I have been going to Namie-cho once or twice a month since 2013, and it is not often that I go to the same place like that in my life, so it had become a familiar sight to me. Then all of a sudden, the demolition went ahead and there was a row of what looked like grave markers. After six or seven years, new initiatives were slowly emerging, and finally the wave of these initiatives had arrived in Namie. So when Mr. Horikawa asked me to take pictures of the demolition, I said I would be happy to do so.
 Demolition takes about a month, and I thought about what kind of method I should use to film the demolition. Mr. Horikawa kept in touch with people on site and gave me information, which I listened to and made a schedule. Even though I was at the construction site all day, I could not approach the site while work was in progress, so I took pictures of the site while the workers were eating their lunches, and after a while I became friends with the workers. After a while, I became friends with the workers, and they let me plant my camera in various places.
 That’s how I was shooting, but I was originally a still photographer. Still photography is always looking at various places, and my eyes are constantly moving to find new poses, but this time the work was heavy with history, with the Horikawas’ memories of the house, the thoughts of the previous generation, and the wood used for the materials. In order to compress the history into a short work, I decided to use the method of staring at a single point for a long time, so I set up a tape measure and used a slow speed method of staring at a single point for a long time. I could have made a documentary-style film with Mr. Horikawa’s dialogue, but instead I decided to have the god of the house speak silently, and this work was completed.
 It was February. I spent a little over a month traveling back and forth between my home and Namie, sometimes staying overnight in my car, and sometimes drinking until morning with Sumio Konno at a karaoke snack bar in front of Namie station. Thanks to this connection, the owner of the snack bar gave me the key to her apartment, and I was able to take pictures while sleeping under a roof. There was no running water or electricity, but I felt that being in such a place opened a window to my sensibilities.
 Even now, when I go to Namie to shoot, I stay in my car at a cemetery called Ohirayama. People ask me why I stay at a cemetery, but the people who sleep there were the first to experience the pain of the nuclear power plant accident. They were alive, but their search was cut off because of the nuclear accident. I feel as if I am being told to keep proper records while being protected by the spirits of those people. Every time I go there and lay down on the floor to sleep, a police officer comes to question me about my duties. It has become a regular occurrence.
 After filming the demolition of Mr. Horikawa’s house, I was asked by Mr. Konno to film the demolition of his house as well. A year later, I was asked to photograph the demolition of Namie Elementary School, but I thought it was too much for me to do alone. Mr. Horikawa said, “The president of that company is a graduate of my cram school,” and he gave the OK on the same day. Last year, it took about three months to complete the filming. The filming was done in a style I had never done before, in which the viewer gazes at a single point for a long time, and the absurdity of the nuclear accident that is revealed through this process is expressed not through direct human words, but by possessing the unspeakable. This was actually put to good use in the filming of the Horikawa family.
 The Horikawa’s home was the demolition of a house with a garden, but the government’s definition of “demolition” is only for houses, and trees and garden stones are not included. Because of tax issues, in order to dispose of the land, the trees and stones in the garden had to be removed. So Mr. Horikawa finally decided to get rid of the garden trees. There was a large maple tree in the garden that seemed to be the guardian deity of the house, as if it had been the family’s happy place to rest in its shade. The maple tree had to be cut down. So, I made a film about the maple tree. To my delight, fellow artists from the “Moyai Exhibition” (organized by Mr. Nakasuji) painted pictures and a sculptor made wood carvings, creating works related to the maple tree.
 It is difficult to get a sense of something that comes from an unspeakable object unless we are in a state of pure listening and free of any thoughts. However, I believe that sensing such things and expressing them in some way will provide an opportunity for children who have no memory of those days to learn about them in the future, 11 years after the event.

Projection of “KODAMA
 A video work by Jun Nakasuji that vividly depicts the way the wind crosses the maple trees, Fumio and Takako’s one-day visit to the maple trees, the maple trees being cut down, and works by artists Kimbara, Suzuki, and Ando that depict the maple trees.

Mr. Horikawa
 I can only express my gratitude to Mr. Nakasuji for the many days and hours he spent filming. Also, the painters Hisahiro Kanehara and Kunihiro Suzuki, who are here today, took the trouble to come to our house in Namie and paint the maples in our garden. Sculptor Eisaku Ando, who evacuated to Kyoto, also made a sculpture from a maple tree that had been cut down and left behind. We are very happy that so many people have done this for us, and we are filled with gratitude that both our house and the maple tree can now be put to rest.

Mr. Nakasuji
 Like the maple tree, in the cleared areas of Namie, a garden tree stands as if it were a guardian deity of the house. That is the strange scenery after the demolition. I felt as if the trees in the garden were playing the role of connecting the hearts of the owners who had evacuated and were far away from their homes. They have been there, rooted to the ground, watching the city without a single day’s rest since 3/11.
 Just recently, I visited the site of Mr. Horikawa’s house, which has been completely cleared, and was left with a very empty feeling.

Mr. Horikawa
 When the maple trees were cut down and the yard was cleared, I felt even more empty than when the house was demolished. When I saw the cleared land in my neighborhood, I thought that everyone must be feeling the same way.

 The most impressive thing I heard from various people was, “When the house was still there, I thought I was a Namie resident because of the house, even though I had evacuated far away, but when the house was demolished but the garden trees remained, I thought I was still a Namie resident because of the garden trees. However, when the garden trees were cut down and the last of the trees disappeared, it was as if this was the deciding factor as to what would really happen.

Mr. Horikawa.
 That’s right. I feel like my roots have been pulled out.

Mr. Nakasuji
 Until the nuclear power plant accident and reconstruction work began in earnest, I was able to express the unreasonableness of the nuclear accident through the scenes of towns that were uninhabited and falling into disrepair, but as the towns were being cleared and nothing was left, it became difficult to find a theme for my work from the standpoint of someone who had been shooting

 reality. Conversely, thanks to the fact that I have been watching and photographing during that period of time, I can see that the nuclear accident exists in the form of a vacant lot with nothing in it. At such a time, Kaede seemed to call out to me, “The subject is still there. Take a picture of me.” I felt as if Kaede was calling out to me. I was sure that Kaede was calling everyone. I am sure that Kaede called everyone, including Mr. Kanehara, Mr. Suzuki, and Mr. Ando.

Mr. Horikawa
 I am on the board of directors of the school governing council of the integrated elementary and junior high school in the community where I live now. That is how I got over my depression, and the local people recommended me, saying, “Since you have worked so hard in Namie, we want you to do the same here. That cleared me of a strange wet dream (the trouble with the neighbors I talked about in the first part).
 Now I need a little income, so I kept the junior high school section of the cram school and eliminated the elementary school section. And as a place for children to stay, I have set up “Matsuno Tanoshiso” from 2:00 to 5:00 pm. I also volunteer once a week as a coordinator for other learning support programs for elementary school children.
 (In response to Watanabe’s question, “What was it like living in Namie with its abundant nature?)
 Namie was a town rich in nature. My friends and I bought a boat with 15 people, and I and one other person were the pilots, and we would go out fishing three times a week, communicating with each other like, “We’ll go tomorrow. We never bought any fish, except for the fall swordfish. I caught everything myself. I would eat them alive and slaughtered them. In the mountains, I would pick wild vegetables and mushrooms, and when the season came, I would go out to pick them, saying, “I’m going to pick some more.
 He had many friends. Many of them were graduates of the cram school. But now they are all gone. The nuclear accident took away everything. In the case of a natural disaster, it doesn’t disappear. In the case of a natural disaster, people would try to somehow build the town back together again, but that is not possible in the case of a nuclear accident. Everything is gone.



November 11, 2022 - Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , ,

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