Since the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, I have regularly visited Fukushima to take photographs. During shooting, I came across one old cherry tree, under which there was a small community cemetery. The tree seemed to embrace the souls of the villagers with its arms open wide. This sight appeared to me to be a symbol of homeland.
In the meantime, I have been attracted to Japanese traditional hand-screened paper called washi and started to use some of them for my creation. In Japan, washi is produced in various regions according to each region’s traditional method and local materials. Washi is mostly made from the bark of mulberry tree called kozo.
I heard that the most important factor in making washi is water. Ichibei Iwano, a living national treasure in washi, said in an interview, “What makes good washi is not an artisan’s skill but water.”
I could not help feeling how precious it is that washi is produced with each region’s specific water nourished in each region’s environment, especially when I think that water flows all over the earth, as is often called the water planet. Washi is also a symbol of homeland, which should not be lost forever.
In this work, I printed the symbolic image of homeland, which I found in Fukushima, on 5 kinds of washi from different regions. I believe that, in each region, there is a symbolic sight of homeland filled with the same kind of affection.
I sincerely hope that nobody will ever be deprived of their homeland by forces beyond their control. I sincerely hope that homeland will always be a place of peace where people could come back whenever they would like to.
Last but not least, I would like to add that I found the tree in Odaka, Minamisouma City, Fukushima Prefecture, where residents were forced to evacuate after the nuclear power plant accidents. They have not returned yet.
The washi I used are Kamikawasaki washi from Fukushima, Gundougami from Tokyo, Nao washi from Saga, Senkashi from Ehime and Echizen washi from Fukui.
In addition to the local paper from Fukushima, namely Kamikawasaski washi, I used the paper from Tokyo, Gundougami, for the electric power generated at the exploded nuclear power plants in Fukushima was entirely sent to and used in the Tokyo metropolitan area.
Regarding the other 3 kinds of papers, Nao washi, Senkashi and Echizen washi, I selected them because they are from prefectures where the operation of very old nuclear power plants was restarted during the 8 years after the disaster in Fukushima.