Praying gives us calm and peace in our hearts. It also brings us hope. We know this in our hearts.

In March 2011, Japan had a big disaster, the Great East Japan Earthquake. Right after the major earthquake, the traffic network got blocked. People who suffered from the disaster helped each other.

I heard that many foreign people were surprised to know that the store owners in stricken areas opened their stores and provided food for free to victims who were waiting in line quietly to get the relief supplies. But this didn’t surprise me and other Japanese people at all. I think that this is exactly how Japanese people are.

When I visited the stricken areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami, I saw a lot of people putting their hands together and praying. It seemed everybody, even those who were not victims, was doing so, and very naturally. It’s been more than a year now but they still keep praying.

As for us Japanese, we pray not only to God but also to Nature, such as the sun, seas, trees and rocks. We have also given prayers for our ancestors and people who passed away. We do this naturally, and have been doing this since we were born. Praying is such a thing for Japanese people. We show respect and gratitude for everything in prayer.

As is being proven in the medical world, praying might have a special power. It is said that praying makes plants grow up fast, or works within the human genome with healing power. It is not easy to reveal why praying is so effective, but I am trying to express the hidden energy of prayer in my photographs.

— Shigeru Yoshida