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Fukushima Samurai

Noriko Takasugi
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Entry Fee: Free

The Samurai portrayed here were once residents in the area close to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. They are no longer allowed to live there since 3.11 but to enter during the day*. Each of them stands firmly with their subtle but impressive expression at the sites in their hometown that had a personal meaning for them.

Since 2011, I have devoted my time to capturing the survivors of 3.11. These photos are part of my long-term project that differs from the major news stories or other projects about the disaster, having been investigating the evacuees not as victims, but as representative of Japanese identity, examining how they are surviving and fighting their fate to retain their sense of self.

Soma Nomaoi is an annual celebration of Samurai culture in Fukushima that is about 1,000 years old. About 2000 people died in Fukushima due to 3.11, majority of whom were from the area where the Soma Nomaoi is held. Despite the harsh conditions, the majority of surviving Samurai agreed to hold the gathering in 2011, just a few months after the disaster. 

This series of portraits serve as a study in identity and human resilience. However, these also represent this eloquent testimony of the antagonism between progress and traditional values. My ordinary life and Japanese root came across to these Samurai. The more I listened their story and photographed, the more I felt that I am taking self-portrait of mine who are fighting for keeping my identity in the same area of them.

Born in Japan, based in Tokyo. Graduated with an MA Photojournalism & Documentary Photography at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London.
Her current longer-term project work is looking at Japanese identities and the relationship between man and environment.
Takasugi’s work has been exhibited widely in UK, France, Russia, Malaysia, and Japan and published in Le Monde、Harperʼs BAZAAR、Telegraph, Independent,, Asahi shimbun, to name a few.
Her work was selected for Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015、Asian Woman Photographers Showcase 2014, awarded KONICA MINOLTA FOTO PREMIO 2014, invited artist for Photoquoi 2015、selected as a scholarship recipient and finalist for Critical Mass 2013.

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Entry Fee: Free
© Rob Johnston

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