(Mainichi Japan) April 4, 2011
Photographer battles with emotions as he confronts tsunami destruction head-on
大震災と報道:直面した「死」、本質どう伝える がれきの中で自問続け



Early in the morning on March 12, the day after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck Japan's Tohoku region, I arrived at the Gamo district of Sendai.

"There are dead bodies everywhere," people said.

What used to be a residential area of about 300 households had disappeared. Mud covered the first and second floors of a nearby elementary school. Pallid locals who had survived by escaping to the roof of the building said that it was "hell." Bodies lay across the rubble as firefighters searched for survivors. Aftershocks and tsunami continued, one after another. Waves about a meter high surged upstream on the Nanakitagawa River.

That afternoon, I made my way to nearby Sendai port, where any traces of it being a bustling weekend shopping area were now gone. Remnants of trucks and buildings blocked the roads, and people carrying their belongings under both arms formed long lines.

I found the body of a man, naked from the waist up, in the rubble. People hurried on their way, and did not stop to look at the man. I took several photos of him, but didn't send them in to the office.

It was in my fifth year as a reporter at the paper that I decided that I wanted to show the public exactly what I was seeing in the field, and switched to being a photographer. Now stationed at the Sendai Bureau, I call Sendai home. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that such destruction would strike my city. I just can't make any sense of it, and there have been moments when I just don't want to see any of this anymore.

On March 13, I headed to Higashi-Matsushima, where over 200 bodies had been found. I had just been in the city the day before the earthquake to cover ice-fish fishing, which was in its high season. Just a few days later, I watched as Self-Defense Force (SDF) members carried body after body wrapped in blankets. I clicked away on my camera from a distance. A photographer from another newspaper followed the SDF troops, but I refused to entertain ideas of where they were headed. I told myself that it was getting too dark, anyway, and left to go home.

Meanwhile, my colleagues had been covering what lay beyond what I had been willing to see. It was their photos of mud-covered bodies being laid on the floor of gymnasiums used as makeshift morgues with family members collapsing in tears next to them that captured the true essence of the tsunami. The real tragedy of the monstrous waves is not that entire cities were reduced to rubble, but that many people died. I had been trying to avert my eyes from those deaths.

How am I supposed to share what's actually happening at the disaster sites with our readers? There are weekly magazines that have published photos of dead bodies, and some argue that newspapers should do the same. Right now, though, I don't know what the right answer is. Since the tsunami, I've had bad dreams numerous times. In those dreams, I try frantically to run to safety, but my legs refuse to move. Just as I'm about to be swallowed by a tidal wave, I wake up. I worry that readers would also suffer from nightmares if certain photos were to be published in the paper.

Regardless, I still recognize the significance of photography. On March 22, 11 days after the quake, I flew into Miyagi Prefecture's Tashiro Island, located off the coast of Ishinomaki, on an SDF helicopter. Residents of the island were at a loss for words when they saw the newspaper I had brought with me. Radios had been their single source of information for over 10 days, and only when they saw the images of destruction were they able to fully comprehend how bad the situation was.

Three weeks have passed since the massive temblor and ensuing tsunami, and many people are still making the rounds at morgues in search of missing family members. There have been signs of hope, too, however. One morning when temperatures plunged to subzero, I met Kyoko Kato, a 59-year-old woman taking refuge at an evacuation shelter in the city of Kesennuma. Washing clothes in ice-cold water with her bare hands, Kato smiled and said, "Feeling the cold is proof that I'm alive." I captured her chapped skin with my camera.

Later that day, I ran into Kato in the hallway of the shelter. "You don't have any food with you, do you? Wait right here," Kato said, and came back with a cream-filled roll and tomato juice that had been distributed to the evacuees. I told her that I couldn't accept something so precious, but she would have none of that.

"Yesterday, some volunteers sang for us. It went something like 'Let us be thankful for hearts more than for things,' and it made me cry," Kato said, and with a smile, she left. Cream oozed out of the roll as I bit into it, and melted in my mouth. "Delicious," I thought, as tears streamed down my face.

What are we human beings doing here on earth? What is the meaning of life? These are questions that I've ruminated on before, but find myself asking again. The sight of disaster victims trying to get on with their lives -- despite having seen so many people die senseless deaths -- makes me realize that I can't look away. I have to keep confronting this reality, and capturing it with my camera. (By Hiroshi Maruyama, Photo Department)








毎日新聞 2011年4月4日 東京朝刊

0 件のコメント: