Voices from FUKUSHIMA Vol.8 Ms. Yuko HIROHATA

Having been kept alive…

Those people whom I love all passed away.
But both of the two of us are alive. Not because of our effort. Not because of our own power… That’s what I felt very strongly. One month later, when we got settled down, when we found a place to live, for the first time we felt, “Yes, we are alive.”

When we looked back on March 11, we felt that we became a little bit more aware of what the most important thing is in our life. I am a person who worked 365 days, a workaholic. But the company, my work of the following day, everything was gone. However, I became aware of what is very important: my children, my family. I thought I wanted to keep my family. But going back to work, my life became as it was before.

In the spring of 2013 I decided to start a farm.

What I said to my children each day was: “Did you have your breakfast?” “Go to school.” “Take a bath and go to bed.” That was all. I thought, “This is not right.”

I quit my job and lived in a temporary house at that time. I borrowed land for a farm next to our temporary house. It was to use our time more meaningfully. I had no experience in farming, which was good. If I had some experience I might have thought that I might fail and have given up the idea of farming. Because I had no experience I borrowed a farming land, using all my severance pay, built a vinyl house, and started planting flowers.

Should I choose flowers? Should I choose vegetables? Probably because of the radiation, … I asked someone which was better. “Flowers are lovely,” somebody replied. So, rashly, I thought of myself becoming a flower farmer.

Then I started reading books, searching on the internet, and learned that if we sowed seeds, seedlings would come out. This is after all an amateur’s work. The day after the joy of finding a bud coming out, the following day it dies, which continues every day. Somehow after a while people from every corner came to see what I was doing. Elderly men and women said, “It is not working.” And it was true. The flower died the following day.

As I continued doing this, one morning when I woke up, the top of the vinyl house was opened. When some flowers were dying and I went out at six in the morning, watering the flowers was already done. When I thought I had to weed, someone had done it already. I was doing, yet not knowing what had to be done. As I reflected on it, those elderly people in their 70s and 80s, they had done it before. They knew that I would fail. Hirohata, who did not know anything about farming, set out for farming. There, for the first time, I found a bond with those people. I was able to go forward.

If I was a perfect person, they would not have offered their helping hands. I still think so even now. These days I really think it is good not to know everything.

I grew flowers, and after two years I took 70,000 pots of flowers to a market. I could do it because those people taught me where to go and what to do. The profit was 86,000 yen. What is left with me is the bond. Those people will come and help me whenever there is a need. Those who evacuated to a distant place often come back to see me even now. Thinking of this, it is OK if I had only 86,300 yen profit.
That is why I like what I am not good at.