Flowers of Fukushima
I am really grateful to receive the honor of this prize.
It has been four years since I started taking pictures of flowers in Fukushima. I take pictures daily, as I wish for as many people as possible to share the delight of flowers, which overcomes the barriers of languages, nations, cultures, and viewpoints.
It is my utmost pleasure to spread the knowledge that Fukushima is a land of beautiful flowers and that we continue to take pride in our homeland.
Whenever I am behind the lens, two hopes occupy the corner of my mind: to brighten the city and to encourage the people with flowers. The Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent nuclear accidents significantly impacted our quiet life, and as a resident of Fukushima, my future was also heavily shrouded in uncertainty. And yet, even in that situation, the plants in the fields sprouted the same as ever, carrying our hopes with them. Even in that chaotic spring, where the earth was damaged, the scene of those buds sprouting as always, without losing their way, filled me with a sense of deep compassion and serene strength that I cannot describe in words. Since then, photographing and presenting the “Flowers of Fukushima” has become my lifework. When I show people my pictures of flowers, they start talking about their childhood memories, boasting about their own flowers, or telling me stories about their late loved ones. At this moment, my existence is trivial in comparison with the flowers, and I even feel as though I have become an insect flying around them. In the beginning, I immersed myself in taking pictures of flowers to avoid the harsh reality left by the earthquake. However, at some point I began to feel peaceful when photographing flowers. Gradually, I developed bonds with my neighbors, who offer me flowers, and now I am experiencing a true wonder, an everyday joy that comes to everyone who centers their life around flowers.