To the East Coast and On to Fukushima

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Today Uncanny Terrain codirector Junko Kajino begins an East Coast mini-tour, presenting scenes from the in-progress documentary for schools and community groups. Please join her if you’re in the area.

Filmmakers Junko Kajino and Ed M. Koziarski spent five months inside Japan’s nuclear contamination zone for our documentary Uncanny Terrain – living and working with the farmers, researchers and volunteers who have committed themselves to take the nuclear crisis as an opportunity to build a better society.  We’re going beyond disaster reporting, to show what it is really like for these people who refuse to bow to devastating odds.

Now we need your help to return to Japan and revisit those working on the front lines of the nuclear crisis, as they mark the one-year anniversary and the farmers prepare to plant again.

We need to raise $10,000 by March 31 to cover the cost of traveling to Japan and shooting there through the April planting. Please join us by donating to and sharing our new IndieGoGo campaign.  We encourage PayPal contributions because they are tax-deductible, and funds are available to us immediately. Thank you to everyone who has already supported  Uncanny Terrain. Please send this invitation to your friends.  Join the campaign on Facebook.

The organic farmers of Fukushima prefecture toiled for 40 years to grow safe, nutritious and delicious crops on their ancestral land while two nuclear power plants in the prefecture helped feed Tokyo’s increasingly voracious energy appetite.

Since the March 2011 tsunami triggered the meltdown that spread radioactive contamination on much of the lush farmland of Fukushima and eastern Japan, the farmers have been caught between a government in constant denial of the risks of radiation, and outraged citizens who brand the farmers “child murderers” for continuing to cultivate irradiated land.

But the farmers, researchers and volunteers are committed to building a comprehensive monitoring and reporting network to inform citizens about contamination levels in food, air, water and land, so families can make their own informed decisions; and advancing experimental methods to decontaminate soil or prevent crops grown on contaminated soil from absorbing radiation.

Fukushima has demonstrated the need for greater public vigilance to keep all our food and energy producers honest, not just about radiation but about all the potential contaminants that our collective appetites introduce into our bodies and our communities.

Please support Uncanny Terrain and help generate dialogue about these vital issues and assure that the struggles of people in Fukushima can stimulate positive change in the world.  Thank you!

 

Uncanny Terrain in the Chicago Reader

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Rice Harvest

by Sam Worley
Chicago Reader

Along with Junko Kajino, occasional Reader contributor Ed M. Koziarski is codirector of Uncanny Terrain, a documentary about effects from last year’s tsunami and nuclear crisis on Japan’s rice farmers. This preview screening event includes music by Tatsu Aoki and his band the Miyumi Project, and David Tanimura shows digital collages about the nuclear threat. RSVP required; e-mail uncannyterrain@gmail.com.

Uncanny Terrain reception Sunday and more

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This is video we shot of the December performance at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago by Uncanny Terrain composer Tatsu Aoki‘s group Tsukasa Taiko Legacy at JASC.

Tatsu and his band The MIYUMI Project will accompany preview scenes from Uncanny Terrain with their fusion of jazz and Japanese classical music from 6-7 p.m. at High Concept Laboratoriesbenefit reception this Sunday, Feb. 5, 5-8 p.m. at 1401 W. Wabansia in Chicago.

Featuring art by David Tanimura, sushi by Chef Atsushi Iwamoto of Mizu Yakitori (thanks to Mayumi Miyazaki and Asako Hoichi), organic Daishichi Sake courtesy of JFC International, kurimanju and inarizushi by Jo Anne Yamamoto of Auntie Jo’s Yummies, and appetizers courtesy of Shino Tamura from Murasaki Saki Lounge.

All this for no cover charge! But a portion of art sales and all donations benefit our return to Japan in March to capture the first anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and meltdown. If you’re coming, be sure to rsvp here or here.

Can’t miss the first half of the Superbowl? Not in Chicago? We still invite you to make a tax-deductible donation to fund the completion of the film.

Make checks payable to our new fiscal sponsor, Asian Improv aRts Midwest (AIRMW), c/o Japanese American Service Committee, 4427 N. Clark, Chicago, IL 60640 (memo: Uncanny Terrain).

And we continue to accept online donations through our ongoing fiscal sponsor Ionia Inc.

Illinois Arts CouncilUncanny Terrain has been awarded a grant from the Illinois Arts Council‘s Individual Artist Support fund for media arts. Thanks!

Eating Fukushima

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Some floating lantern ceremony

by Ed M. Koziarski
North Avenue Magazine
Jan. 28, 2012

When does a victim become a perpetrator? That’s the question that kept coming up as we made our way across the irradiated landscape.

Many foreigners fled Japan after the tsunami triggered a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant last March. My wife Junko Kajino and I went the opposite way, spending five months inside the U.S.-declared 50-mile no-go radius for our in-progress documentary Uncanny Terrain.

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A pair of Chicago indie filmmakers captures farmers in the aftermath of Japan’s nuclear disaster

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cows2By Jake Malooley
TimeOut Chicago

Jan. 25, 2012

One steamy day last July, Junko Kajino and Ed M. Koziarski found themselves in Fukushima, Japan, hiding beneath a tarp in the back of a pickup truck full of cow feed. The farmer behind the wheel smuggled the filmmakers into a government-mandated 20-kilometer evacuation zone that became highly contaminated with radioactive cesium after a massive earthquake 43 miles off the city’s coast in March. The quake triggered tsunami waves that smashed into the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, causing meltdowns of three reactors.

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Fukushima farmers keep calm and carry on [VIDEO]

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by Ed M. Koziarski
Grist Magazine
9/20/2011

Round, rough-skinned pears fill our Fukushima City apartment. Before the pears it was enormous, impossibly succulent peaches. Apples will be next.

Prior to the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant six months ago, people all across Japan would send seasonal Fukushima-grown fruit to their relatives and neighbors. But now those outside Fukushima are too wary of possible radioactive contamination in produce grown here — and the fruit piles up.

The locals live with the risk. With a surplus of crops growing in the adjacent countryside, the fruits circulate in Fukushima like proverbial American fruitcakes at Christmas. We conspired to regift a box of pears to one neighbor, but they beat us to it and gave us another box. So we eat them all.

Read more.

The Harvest Approaches

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Positive stories of post-disaster Japan for Ganbatte 365

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We’ve begun producing 15-second video spots for Ganbatte 365, a Tokyo-based startup that provides positive stories of post-disaster Japan for digital signs in Tokyo, Osaka, across Japan, and eventually international. Our first subject is our own documentary. We’ll be premiering more spots in the coming months. Here are four of the first 16. Because they’re designed to work with or without audio, the Japanese spots are subtitled in Japanese, the English spots in English.

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Donations to Uncanny Terrain are now tax-deductible

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You can now make a tax-deductible donation to Uncanny Terrain via our fiscal sponsor Ionia, Inc, an Alaska nonprofit dedicated to developing environmentally and agriculturally sustainable community.

Thanks to macrobiotic educator Phiya Kushi of SOS Earth for connecting us with Ionia. We are working with Phiya and web designer Pavel Dolezel to build an online community fostering international dialogue on food safety, sustainable agriculture, alternative energy, and disaster response. The site is in development, but it’s not too early to become a member and join the conversation.

“Don’t forget us,” cry Fukushima nuclear evacuees

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Tens of thousands of people evacuated due to radioactive fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant are living in shelters and storage unit-style temporary housing. Nearly 100 have committed suicide. Many relocation centers are in highly radioactive areas—sometimes higher than the towns that were evacuated.

On July 12, the evacuees held their first protest in Tokyo, marching from Hibiya Park to parliament, calling for their land to be decontaminated, and for better resettlement conditions. “Don’t forget us” was their rallying cry.