Voices from FUKUSHIMA Vol.2 Rev. Tokuun TANAKA

However, as I was terribly worried about my people in Odaka, Fukushima, I returned from Fukui alone. Since then, I was constantly shuttling between Fukushima and Fukui. Fukushima is 800 kilometers away from Fukui, and I travelled between two prefectures probably once in every five days for two years, about 140 times in total. This was a hard time for my family. Before the earthquake, we had lived together, but all of a sudden, my family had to be separated, without father. They couldn’t stand it any longer. So, we decided to go back to Iwaki City where my wife’s parents live, and we moved there in April 2013.

I’ll bring you back to in June 2011. When the aftershock settled, I got a permit to enter into the danger zone where the temple is and was out of bounds then. I took photos of the temple, devastated and overgrown with weeds. It was a horrible sight to see. I proposed a cleanup activity to the JAIF International Cooperation Center. It was a tough job, but I was successful in negotiating with the Center. Actually, the negotiation continued until one day before the cleaning. We finally managed to break through reservations of going into the danger zone. It was in October that the supporting members of the temple and we started the first cleaning. There was no supply of water and electricity, which was very much inconvenient. But, we were determined to do the job by bringing our own lunch and cleaning tools. Since then, we have been continuing the cleaning on the 1st and 15th of every month. After the cleaning finished, we took a photo, had lunch and tea together.

While all these were going on, my 5-year-old child whom I left in Fukui wrote his wish on a paper strip at the Star Festival in July, “I want to go back to Fukushima.” My wife and I didn’t know what to say. Our children, out of their childlike thoughtfulness, had never said anything like that before. We all wished to live together. All of us, our grandfather, grandmother, and friends, were suddenly separated, and have not gotten our normal life back yet. People are trying to create opportunities to get together with friends during summer holidays. We hope these activities continue. Even if children look nervous at first, they soon open up and get along well.

We are the victims of the earthquake, but at the same time, the supporters, and the religious who take spiritual care. “Shukyo” is a Japanese word for religion, and it originally is about life. Saying one’s prayers every morning and evening is our life in Japan. The people actually in the region are the ones who become the supporters.

Humans are creatures that make fire and this is the process of evolution. If we make fire now, we would get reported. This seems to symbolize the present age that we have made a mistake in the use of fire. We are now evacuating from the fire of the nuclear power plants.

The traditional ritual of “nomaoi,” though on a smaller scale, has been celebrated continuously even after March 11, 2011. This is a strong appeal from the local people who do not want to discontinue this traditional ritual which has been celebrated for 1,000 years.