Asami’s Tokyo volunteers

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Tokyo volunteers make their annual weekend trip to Kitakata in western Fukushima to help Asami clear debris from the village’s 200-year-old irrigation canal.

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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Baking bread by headlight

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We produced this series of 15-20 second videos for Tokyo nonprofit Ganbatte 365, about Fukushima City bread maker and hemophiliac amputee Yuji Ohashi, whose company Ginray was one of the few reliable food sources in the area in the immediate aftermath of the 3/11 disaster.

During several nights of blackout, they baked and sold bread by car headlamps. Now he must seek organic suppliers outside Fukushima, even if local ingredients test negative for radiation. The videos will screen on electronic billboards in Tokyo and other cities.

Safecast Radiation Monitoring Seminar

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At Tokyo Hacker Space on 6/24/11, members of the NGO Safecast present the goals, methods, and results of their ongoing volunteer project to independently measure and map contamination levels from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant fallout at hundreds of thousands of sites across Japan.

Uncanny Terrain is a documentary about organic farmers facing Japan’s nuclear crisis, and an international online community fostering dialogue on food safety, sustainable agriculture, alternative energy and disaster response. Please keep the conversation going by making a tax-deductible donation.

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.

Carry On Fukushima

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This video was presented at the Institute for Strategic Leadership‘s “Carry On Fukushima” program in Tokyo on 7/21/11. It includes voices from food producers in the area around the still-leaking Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant:

  • Ohashi may need to look outside Fukushima now for organic suppliers for his bread. He says we need to learn to coexist with radiation.
  • Suzuki and Fukumoto are leaving the idyllic farming community of Kaidomari to live in balance with nature elsewhere.
  • Hongo won’t sell his potentially contaminated rice this year, but he’s eating it himself.
  • Yoshizawa wants to save his 300 irradiated dairy cows from a death sentence.
  • Yamamoto was a farming intern when the disaster struck. She decided to stay and volunteer at an evacuation center.
  • Yoshida is committed to stay and continue farming on the land his family has cultivated for 200 years.

Into the evacuation zone

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Evacuated farmer Yoshizawa wants to stand up to Japanese government and nuclear power company

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After the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, Yoshizawa cared for his 300 dairy cows without water or electricity. He could hear the explosions as the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, 14 km away.

After days of heavy radiation exposure, Yoshizawa was evacuated with the rest of Namie on March 17. He spraypainted “save them or die trying” on the roof of the barn, and went to Tokyo. He talked his way in to see the chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company. Both men cried as Yoshizawa begged the chairman to do something to stop the disaster.

Yoshizawa slept outside in Tokyo for a week, keeping vigil and waiting to see government ministers, calling on them for action. Now he travels Japan in his speaker van, proclaiming his refusal of a government order to kill his 300 cows.

Uncanny Terrain is a documentary about organic farmers facing Japan’s nuclear crisis, and an online community fostering dialogue on food safety, sustainable agriculture, alternative energy and disaster response. Please keep the conversation going by making a donation.

Junko Kajino on Yoshizawa's ranch inside the evacuation zone.

Fukushima City Nuclear Protest Video

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People from across Japan gather in Fukushima City on 6/26/11 to protest the ongoing danger of nuclear power and to call for accountability in the nuclear disaster.

Ruiko Mutou of the Fukushima Network Against Nuclear Power has been opposing the plants since the Chernobyl disaster.

Sachiko Soto of the Fukushima Network to Protect Children From Radiation says that families need support to evacuate children, who are most at risk from radiation.

A representative of the Tokyo Association to Protect the Victims of TEPCO says that Tokyo must take responsibility for the nuclear crisis.

One woman calls on the skeptical crowd to trust their fate to God.

And a 25-year old farmer in western Fukushima chooses to stay and do what she can to help rather than return home to Nagano.

Uncanny Terrain is a documentary about organic farmers facing Japan’s nuclear crisis, and an online community fostering dialogue on food safety, sustainable agriculture, alternative energy and disaster response. Please keep the conversation going by making a donation.