Seishi Nagatsuka, the Photographer at the foot of Mt. Fuji

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

I visited the Nagatsukas at their home, Maple House in the Asagiri highlands. This area is located to the west of Mt. Fuji, between the mountain and Lake Kawaguchi, which is one of the five lakes that surround it.

The previous day a powerful typhoon had passed by. I was amazed to see this beautiful photo taken by Mr. Nagatsuka.

The typhoon did not leave the Asagiri area until almost midnight. Mr. Nagatsuka couldn’t sleep that night so he went out. He has a beautiful huge garden in front of his house with unimpeded views of Mt. Fuji, not even an electrical line in the way. He caught this spectacular scene with the reflection of the moon, Mt. Fuji and clouds around it. The skies having been being swept clear by typhoon winds, the stars twinkled brightly. He said that it was not very easy to take this photo but he really wanted to share this wonderful scene with other people.

His wife Noriko Nagatsuka put this photo on her Face Book. Then many people inquired about who took the photo. Mr. Nagatsuka is a great photographer and he is a very friendly and nice person. I really like him. From professional to beginner, photo lessons are available. Anyone who would like to try, please contact me.

Minamisoma, Soma Nomaoi Festival

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

I went to back to my hometown, Minamisoma. I visited one of the sites where Soma Nomaoi Festival takes place. This festival starts on July 23 in Soma,

24th in Haramachi (which is now called Minamisoma ) and 25th in Odaka (another part of Minamisoma ). Each city has a Shinto shrine which is related to this festival. This festival has a long history over 1,000 years old. Riders on horseback appear on the street. They have a procession to a site called Hibarigahara, where they hold horse races. This is a photo of Hibarigahara in September.The first photo is from the city hall.

 

My childhood memories have a lot to do with this festival. Our summer vacation always started around this time of the year, just as the rainy season finished and the hot weather set in. But this year, things were different. Because of the earthquakes, tsunami and the nuclear power plants’ problems, there was uncertainty about putting the festival on. Some enthusiastic people made great efforts to hold the festival but it was downsized very much.

I have heard many sad stories around the world but I didn’t really understand until I experienced this sad incident in my hometown. It is heart breaking to remember what it was like and what it is now.

I’m sure this festival is a great asset for Japan and it should be kept.

In fact, some of my friends who have seen the festival from different cultures asked me if they can do something to help maintain the festival.

 

I was very stunned to read the news that Japan is to offer 10,000 free trips to foreigners to boost the tourism industry. I would like more people visit Japan but why do we have to do that now ?

The things are tough for Japan’s tourism industry, but we have to spend  our money, tax payers’ money on cleaning or fixing Japan. And that will do good for all over the world. Then everyone can live or take a trip without worries.

 

 

 

 

Minami Soma ( Fukushima )

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

I went to back to my hometown, Minami soma. About six months have passed since the mega earthquake and tsunami. According to my mother, the situation has changed but many problems are still not solved and they are even encountering new problems. In this area, people have experienced a lot of hardships for thousands of years. I think because of this historical background, many people have been patient, kind to others and honest. Not all of them, though.

From Shizuoka where I live to Minami Soma, it used to take less than five hours by train. But after the earthquake, my hometown got much farther away.

The city is located between Iwaki and Sendai on the Jyoban rail line. But now train services aren’t available to Minami Soma because of the crippled nuclear power plants and broken rail tracks.

It seems more convenient to travel by car now. But we still have to avoid some areas when driving to the city and it takes more time.

On our way to Minami Soma, we stopped in Soma, to the north of Minami Soma. I was very glad to see my favorite rock called “ Mojishima “ still exists.

There used to be many restaurants and inns in this area but they have all been destroyed.

I saw people are cleaning the sea by excavators. The restroom building on the beach collapsed. But natural rock was not affected very much.  Probably it means if humans live according to nature, we will be more likely to survive. Nuclear power is totally against nature.

In Minami Soma, many people who evacuated came home but many families with children are still away from their hometown or living separately.

Many older people like my parents remain in town. Some children are in town and commute to schools far away. When disasters occur they reveal people’s true quality. Some doctors who used to practise in this city have left.

I don’t know if they had valid reasons or not. I was very glad to know the E.N.T doctor who has practised in the city still working hard in town. I know he is a very nice person so I was not surprised but it’s not very easy to keep going in this situation since many of his patients have to be away from the city.

However he knows many people in town need him.

What has happened and is still happening looks quite unfortunate but we learn a lot from it and we’ll be stronger. And it’s important to share the stories with many people who think that these matters are none of their business.