Kajino and Koziarski traveled to Fukushima, Japan, shortly after the 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, to live and work with farmers fighting to continue growing organic food on land contaminated by the fallout.
Screening are the episodes Defiance, Arising, and Renewal.
84-year old Teruo Yasukawa is the only farmer growing rice in Minamisoma, Japan, where authorities imposed a growing ban over fears of contamination from the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, 20 km away.
Seiji Sugeno fights to keep alive his village of Towa in the foothills of Fukushima, as farms fail amid fears of radioactive fallout and Sugeno worries for the health of his daughter Mizuho, who is poised to take over his farm.
Born in the Tokyo suburbs, Akihiro Asami is one of the only farmers in the tiny mountain village of Wasetani, on the outskirts of Fukushima, where trace amounts of contamination from 2011’s nuclear meltdown compound existing issues with an aging population and struggling economy. Asami’s wife Harumi and two young daughters evacuated in the wake of the meltdown, but returned a year later, choosing the health risk over the alienation of living as an evacuee. They’re working to build a sustainable community with their neighbors, rooted in traditional farming and artisanal practices that utilize the area’s rich natural resources. In 2014, Akihiro runs for mayor of the surrounding city of Kitakata, calling for a complete transformation of the local economy based on the principles he practices as an organic farmer.
Marija Makeska interviews filmmakers Junko Kajino and Ed M. Koziarski in Cinema Jam:
Junko: “Just like most of the Japanese people, I was always afraid of radiation from our history of atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The aftermath of the atomic bombs that we learned gave me nightmares for long time. The Fukushima Daiichi plant’s melt down gave me strong fear and lost hope in my own country till I found some farmer’s blogs. Some active framers were trying to decontaminate their contaminated land in Fukushima organically. I could not believe that they can do that and even they could keep farming without getting sick. But I wanted to believe that they can do this. Only way to find out is to go there and record how they do.”
Organic farmer Asami’s wife and daughters evacuated in March 2011 from Aizu, 130 km west of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Asami only saw his daughters a few times last year. In the winter, the family moved back to Aizu.
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Fukushima farmers’ rice harvest sits in stockpiles, mostly unsold after radioactive cesium was detected in samples in and outside of the prefecture.
Unable to sell their rice, Fukushima organic farmers have become educators, promoting understanding among their customers about the interconnections of land use, energy consumption, and traditional culture.
Despite staggering odds, most of the farmers remain committed to preserving and recovering their land for future generations.
We return to Fukushima this March to capture the recovery efforts a year after the 3/11 tsunami, earthquake and nuclear disaster.