Thursday, March 8, 2012
Images of devastation but viewed from a rather unusual angle.
An amateur has been shooting video in the aftermath of the disaster, all taken from the vantage point of his paraglider, his images document the destruction, and the rebuilding of his home town.
Sparking ocean and white sand beaches, this video shot two years ago shows the peaceful coast line of Iwaki in the Fukushima prefecture. Before last years’ earthquake and tsunami, scenes like this were common in the quite secluded beaches of this area.
The man in the flying machine is Eiji Sakai, who runs a local auto repair shop. He first start taking videos from his paraglider 18 years ago to capture the beauty of this coast line from the sky.
On the day of the disaster, he took this video from a care, the earthquake and tsunami left 310 people from Iwaki dead. The crisis and the nuclear plant forced Sakai and his family to move to another prefecture.
He turned to Iwaki at the end of march, but didn’t feel like taking his aerial videos for a while.
“When there was still people out searching for friends and relatives I felt it was insensitive to fly around in my paraglider.”
Eventually he did start shooting videos again in april, he found his home town barely recognizable. There were no signs of life to be seen.
“It was such a shock looking down I could hardly see anything through my tears”
Iwaki has a light house that’s a local landmark. The quake cracked the cliff it stands on, destroying the path to it. The tower was damaged too, and was knocked out of commission.
Sakai realized that his videos taken from the sky were a valuable record of what happened.
“When you’re trying to move forward it can be bad to look behind you, but sometimes its important to stop and take a look back so you can close that chapter and take the next step. I hope my videos will serve as a record of what happened here.
Sakai has gone out taking videos every month since then, he said he started seeing some changes since last autumn.
This distract sustained a lot of damage, but temporary shops were built in the grounds of a school, and people even put up a make-shift ring for wrestling events.
Coastal areas were deserted for months, but now they’ve come back to life.
Sakai has returned to the damaged light house many times, especially since it was repaired and put back into operation.
“Seeing the beam from the light house stretching out so far it really felt like a symbol of hope, a sign that the coast of Iwaki is finally coming back to life, it was very moving and it inspired me to keep going”
On the morning of New Years Day Sakai went up to take his first video of the year. People who gathered to watch the sunrise waved to him, just like before the disaster.
“From above, people look so tiny, even a 1000 people seem like a small group but when we put our minds to it we can clean up the wreckage and rebuild the shops; its all thanks to people power.
Sakai has been showing people in the area his videos to inspire them, they are a record of people’s resilience and strength as they work to rebuild their home town.