Portfolio: Noriko Takasugi
Sunday 10 March 2013
The World Health Organization's recent report on the fall-out of the Fukushima disaster appeared largely positive: radiation exposure has had only a minor impact on the overall health of the local population. Yet the meltdown of the Daiichi nuclear plant, two years ago tomorrow – not to mention the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that induced it – continue to have solemn ramifications for those who live in the area.
Soma-Nomaoi is an annual celebration of samurai culture that has taken place in Fukushima Prefecture for more than 1,000 years. Held in July, it is a three-day event at which 500 local samurai recreate battle scenes with familial flags hanging from their backs. Originally a military exercise, it is now a tradition that not only represents the spirit of the samurai (many of whom are farmers or have jobs related to the nuclear plant), but also acts as a catalyst to provincial pride.
The Tokyo-based photographer Noriko Takasugi travelled the 150 miles to Fukushima to shoot the Soma-Nomaoi warriors in places meaningful to them. Having spent time with them, she came to believe that the festival embodies their identity and their fight for survival against the fate dealt them. Let us not forget that some 16,000 people died of the tsunami and earthquake, while more than 160,000 remain displaced.
Takakatsu Mottate, 68 (pictured above), saw his home demolished by the tidal wave, while some of his horses were among the hundreds lost. Yet, in the run-up to the festival, he continues to practise horse-racing every morning along the beach in Soma City, where many of his neighbours' bodies washed up. Kunihito Sato, 40 (see gallery), is seen in front of his parents' house in Odaka-ku, where he had lived since he was born. The walls are cracked, yet it is the radiation still present that makes the house uninhabitable. Sato continues to work at the Daiichi plant, where he was employed at the time of the meltdown. "It has been tough working there since the disaster," he says, "but I could survive because of Soma-Nomaoi."
For more: norikotakasugi.com
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Malaysian cyclist could face disciplinary action after 'Save Gaza' gloves protest
- 2 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 3 Fifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage from US parenting groups
- 4 McDonald’s removes chicken nuggets from the menu in Hong Kong amid major food scare
- 5 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage from US parenting groups
Guardians Of The Galaxy, review: Marvel-lite movie feels half-hearted
Fifty Shades of Grey film stills
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia