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.”
Akihiro Asami left his life as a city salaryman to raise his family on a self-sustaining organic farm in the mountains of Kitakata, on the western outskirts of Fukushima prefecture.
When the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant melted down in 2011, Akihiro’s wife Harumi evacuated with their two young daughters. Akihiro stayed behind to continue farming. In the face of public fears of Fukushima food, some of Akihiro’s neighbors were unable to keep their farms going and moved away. Akihiro found his crops showed no detectible contamination from the fallout. He worked to hold his community together.
In 2012, Harumi and the girls moved back to Kitakata, accepting the risk of exposure over the pain and disruption of separation and displacement.
This month, Akihiro announced that would run for mayor of Kitakata on a platform of local economies and natural agriculture as an alternative to the unsustainable systems that spawned the nuclear disaster.
In January we return to Fukushima to capture Akihiro’s dark horse campaign, a hopeful protest by one Fukushima farmer for a better way to live.
Please help us to continue our journey, complete the film, and share the stories of Akihiro and his fellow Fukushima farmers with the world. We gratefully accept tax-deductible donations.
“This film is a must for all who are continuing to ‘pray for Japan’ — for all who support the safety of Japanese people and animals, the recovery of Tohoku, and the survival of traditional Japanese rural culture.”
Seiji Sugeno at the Fukushima Organic Farmers' Network's café Orgando in Tokyo
Asami Girls at Yamato Farmers Market
The Asamis' kitten. No Rice No Life
The Asamis at the Yamato Farmers Market
Hiroshi Hasegawa's horses are part of his plan for an off-the-grid farm in Yamato.
Umbrella left behind by prior residents of Hiroshi Hasegawa's 150-year-old house.
Yamato Farmers Market
This is Serbian bicyclist Milosav Grujicic's third summer working on Seiji Sugeno's organic farm.
Koichi Nemoto has one of the only operating farms in mostly-abandoned Odaka, 12 km from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
86-year-old Teruo Yasukawa has planted his third rice crop since the nuclear disaster, in Minami-Soma where most cultivation is banned, but he hasn't been able to fully attend to his fields since fainting in the spring.
As we mark the second anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, we present the new trailer for our in-progress documentary Uncanny Terrain, following the organic farmers of Fukushima fighting for the right to cultivate their contaminated land and preserve their traditional communities.
We plan to return to Fukushima this spring to capture where the farmers are two years later, as they continue their efforts to rebuild their lives and restore their farms.
Please help us cover the cost of making this trip and completing the film, by making a tax-deductible donation.