Editor’s note: This article was published here originally in 2019, and we re-publish it to honor the friends and loved ones affected by the tragedy that happened 10 years ago today.
My parents, who owned a photo studio, went missing after the 2011 tsunami. Our house was destroyed. It had been a place for working, but also for living; I grew up there. Where their photo studio once stood, there was nothing but a pile of rubble. I uncovered what remained of the darkroom, and then found my father’s camera, his portfolio, and our family album covered in mud. It was at that moment that I first began to regret not taking over my parents’ photo studio.
One day, I tried to take a landscape photo with my father’s muddy lens. The image came out dark and blurry, like a view of the deceased. By taking it, I felt I could connect our world with the world beyond. “What did he regret in his death?” “How would he look down on our new, reconstructed town if he was alive?” “How does he feel that I have grown as a photographer?” These questions give me a reason to take photographs. I felt like I could have a conversation with my parents—though of course that was impossible.
The family snapshots I found were washed white, the images slowly disappearing. The portraits taken by my father were stained and discolored. These scars are similar to the damage seen in my town—similar to my memories, which I am slowly losing. I hope to retain my memory and my family history through this book. By arranging these photos, I have attempted to reproduce it.
The number of editions of this photobook, 87, represents the number of years since our family-owned photo studio was first opened in 1930. This book is dedicated to my father, Atsushi Sasaki, and my mother, Katsuko Sasaki, who were never found after March 11, 2011. I would also like to thank my sister, Hirono Sasaki and all friends and supporters from Onagawa.
Editors’ note: If you’re interested in seeing more of Suzuki’s remarkable work, please visit her personal website. You can also learn more about her book and watch a short video here. And see this photo essay, Otsuchi Future Memories, by Alejandro Chaskielberg.