From the Yuriage region of Natori City in Miyagi Prefecture, sisters Reina
and Mana have joined us. I met them for the first time in late April when I
first visited the disaster affected area. This was before we had even
discussed the KPJ project.
I encountered a group of elementary school children who were energetically playing in the school playground, which had become an evacuation centre. Reina and Mana were scintillating, running around in the centre of it all. After processing my film back in Tokyo and seeing the smiling faces of the children on photographic paper, I desperately wanted to meet them again, and give them their photographs in person. I decided to go back and see them during my next days off.
Around this time, the plans for KPJ came up, and I visited Miyagi again. It was beginning of July, and unfortunately only a few days prior, everyone had moved to a temporary home, and I heard that the evacuation centre was now closed. Although it was welcome news, I admit, without knowing their addresses, I was feeling a little sad that I was not ever going to be able to play with them again.
With no need to go to the evacuation centre anymore, I decided to go to Yurijo Elementary School, which had been completely destroyed by the tsunami. I wanted to visit to find out what it had been like. I was disappointed to see the playground equipment left in the school yard, without the sounds of children’s playful joy.
I walked into the gymnasium at the end of the school yard and began looking through numerous family photographs with mud which had been carefully cleared away. There were local people there also, seriously looking through each photo from a mountain of photographs, wondering if they could find their own lost photographs. I was gazing at this scene, when in the large gymnasium, my eyes met that of a familiar face.
Yes, it was the family of Reina and Mana. They told me it was the first time they visited around their home and Yurijo Primary School since the disaster struck. Just as I thought we would never meet again, there they were. I was so thankful for this reunion and connection . Again until evening, I ran around and played alone in the school of Yurijo Elementary School.
Reina and Mana have decided to join KPJ, and when I asked them what they wanted to
photograph, they immediately replied, “We want to photograph Yurijo”. The town of Yurijo, now
destroyed by the tsunami, was once a small
beach side community, where, like the good old days, most of the residents knew each other and grew up together throughout their kindergarten, elementary and junior high school years.
For Reina and Mana who had lived near a park in the centre of this town, their town was their treasure. They said they wanted to document their town returning to life. So from now on through Reina and Mana’s perspecitves, we will share with you how this town will regain its former life and vitality.
Please look forward to our posts.
3/11 Kids Photo Journal
ENGLISH TRANSLATION: MAYU KANAMORI