Saturday, 9 March 2013
Japan March 2011
I arrived in Japan in March 2011, two days before the terrible nuclear power accident at Fukushima in North Eastern Japan which triggered a huge earthquake and tsuami. The consequences of this for Japan are still being felt. 30,000 people were killed, lost and some indeed still missing. I was the guest of the Kansai St David's Society and was invited to show some of my images and impressions of Wales to the members of the society who all had some connection and/or a strong interest in Welsh culture and way of life. I was several hundred miles away from the earthquake zone and staying in Kobe (itself the site of a horrific earthquake in 1995), Osaka and Kyoto. I was meant to travel to Tokyo to repeat my talk at the University but I was advised not to travel to the region because of regular power cuts and risk of aftershocks. I spent two weeks in the Kansai region observing how life was continuing even though many people I met and talked with were affected in some way by the disaster. News programmes, both Japanese stations and international organisations like CNN and BBC World carried a constant stream of images, discussion of the consequences and thoughts ahead to the future. The most moving footage was on Japanese TV where they carried in total silence, film of the power of the tsunami flooding, destroying and crushing all traces of life in its path - houses, cars and buses, shops, roads, bridges, railway tracks. There was nothing really anyone could say in any case - it just left one dumbstruck that this disaster was unfolding in front of the eyes. I recorded a number of images of life continuing and people just getting on with things where I spent time for 14 days in the Kansai region - unremarkable in themselves and not close to the 'action' at all - and when I came home I was asked to write an article for the Guardian Cardiff on-line website about my experiences. A link to the blog and a flickr photo album is provided here.