Photos of Beautiful Living Scenery in Iitate Village (Fukushima) Before the Great East Japan Earthquake

“Life in Iitate Village - Photo Exhibition by Chiyoko Kanno”

Date / Period Tuesday, June 17, 2014〜 Monday, June 23, 2014
Venue Kyoto University of Art and Design, Uryuyama Campus Uryukan Building 1st floor
Venue Details 2-116 Uryuyama Kitashirakawa, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 606-8271 JAPAN


A Photo Exhibition by Chiyoko Kanno will be held from Tuesday, June 17 to Monday, June 23, 2014 at Kyoto University of Art and Design’s Uryuyama Campus, Uryukan Building 1st floor. It will show the beautiful living scenery of Iitate Village as it existed before the Great East Japan Earthquake.

This exhibition introduces photos taken by Chiyoko KANNO, a nurse and photographer in the town of Namie; taken the year before the Great East Japan Earthquake, they capture the vivid expressions of farmers and children from neighboring towns playing in the streams of Iitate. At present, even three years after the earthquake, over 130,000 people are still facing difficulties that prohibit them from returning to their homes; peoples memories of the natural disasters and the nuclear incidents that occurred are fading outside of the affected area, so this exhibition was designed to create an opportunity for people to reconsider those historically tragic events by a volunteer from Kyoto living in Minami Soma City.

40 photo works will be shown in this exhibition; also photographs taken after the earthquake will be displayed in a digital slide show. Postcards featuring the photo works will be sold to help cover the expenses of the exhibition.

◆Gallery Talk◆
Time and Date:Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 13:00 ~
Venue:Kyoto University of Art and Design, Uryuyama Campus, Uryukan Building 1st floor
Speaker:Chiyoko Kanno(Photographer)
Reservation:None Required

【Chiyoko KANNO】
Born in 1946, raised in Kakuda City, Miyagi Prefecture. Graduated from Nursing School, Fukushima Medical University. A Member of the Nikkor CLUB, The All Japan Association of The Photographic Society (Fukushima Branch), and the All Japan Alpine Association. Received many prizes at several photo competitions. She lived in Namie Town, Fukushima Prefecture and worked as a nurse, often visiting Iitate Village and taking photographs of peoples’ daily lives. Even after the nuclear power plant accident, she has continued to take photographs, visit shelters, etc.

*** Message Board at the Photo Exhibition***

The Lost Original Landscape of Japan

The village of Iitate is a treasure trove to the camera shutter. Located on a plateau some 400~600 meters above sea level, and with the many rows of houses, it is said to be a trademark landscape of Japan. It has given a sense of tranquility to visitors throughout the four seasons.

Village locals are friendly to outside visitors, and I can't remember a time when someone has denied me permission to take their photo. If anything, they have given me many of their crops, and I have been moved by their generosity and the deliciousness of these foods. Although the village is part of the national association of scenic villages, I've come to feel that a beautiful village is not just about scenery; it is the result of the efforts of the people who live there. The spirit of village Madei (*) also sounds an alarm to our contemporary society that is flooded with material goods.

In the summer, children play in the river, and it is as if we can hear their cries of joy. Although I'm almost 70 years old, I remember catching river fish in the rice paddies in my childhood. This is now a rare sight in today's Japan.

Goats, wild boars, cattle, and horses are raised by using a healthy environment. An elderly woman in the photos bought a goat with some pocket money and said it is as cute as her grandchild. The goat eventually gave birth itself, but during evacuation from the nuclear accident, she had to let it go full of tears.

In the winter, due to its location above sea level, Iitate becomes a pure white snowscape, but the village still produces dried radish and distributes it throughout the region, despite the severe cold. For those who love home cooking, this is an indispensable food item. The image of hanging radish on a vast plot of land really matches Iitate. Due to the cold high land, it wasn't possible to farm in the past, and the fact that the area is now cultivated speaks to the great effort it must have taken. Just when agriculture became possible and there was a hope for the future, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster took place, and, not only was the area blocked off for 30 kilometers, but the region became polluted by radiation due to the prevailing winds. The entire village became a no man's land.

Each and every smiling face in the photos is now sad. Being suddenly removed from village life has brought feelings of resentment, anger, frustration, regret, insecurity, and sadness. Evacuated families have been separated, and my chest shakes with anger when I wonder where they are and how they are doing. The nuclear accident has taken away everything at once.

Should the right to snatch away the beauty of the village's nature and the lives of residents be given to the country and corporations? The responsibility of eliminating the Japan's nature, the foundation of the country's spirit, is immense.

Despite its small size, there are nuclear power plants in every region of Japan. We don't know if another Fukushima will happen again. We as adults have a responsibility to leave to the next generation a safe and beautiful nature. We must never let children around the country to feel the same pain.

Chiyoko Kanno (Photographer)
<From Photo Journal Magazine "Days Japan" (Issued in July, 2013)>

* Madei: "Madei" comes from "mate" ("both hands") and refers to fulfilling all your tasks with a pure, sincere heart. This term is used in the Tohoku region.

Fee -
Seating Capacity -
How to Apply -
Organizer “Life in Iitate Village - A Photo Exhibition by Chiyoko Kanno” Executive Committee
Contact Kyoto University of Art and Design, Office of Public Relations(TEL : 075-791-9122)
PDF Message Board at the Photo Exhibition