My desire to create art comes from my search for the meaning of our existence. I use my artwork as a key to understand others and myself. The most precious thing in my life is the growth process. Art is my guide and mentor....

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Environmental Festival in Ashio

The town of Ashio experienced prosperity and decline because of it's Copper Mine. It was a major site for pollution and riots by miners more than 100 years ago. The nature that was destroyed has not yet fully returned. At Ashio's nature and history tour, the local executive committee's guide explained its past and present.

Matsuki Valley

The influence of sulfur dioxide gas generated during the refining of copper caused the surrounding mountains to become ”bald mountain”. In order to improve this situation, the nonprofit corporation "Ashio Greenery Raising Association" was organized by local citizen groups. It has been planting trees since 1996. This demonstrates that it required tremendous time and effort to recover the beautiful nature that copper mining destroyed.

Seismic activity and active faults in the Ashio area

At the Ashio Community Center, local photographer's works and my prints were exhibited and the events of Sontoku Ninomiya and Shozo Tanaka were held. Former Futaba Mayor, Katsutaka Idogawa, visited on our Ashio event. He evacuated all Futaba residents on March 12th, 2011 because of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
I thought giving Mr. Idogawa time to talk would be more important than my talk, so I asked him to talk during my talk time.

Former Futaba Town Mayor, Katsutaka Idogawa

Before this event, we ate lunch with wild mushroom soup that was served by locals. Ashio was affected by the Fukushima nuclear accident and received radiation damage. I heard from locals who prepared this wild mushroom soup, that the value of radioactivity in wild mushrooms has declined recently and it was safe to be eaten. 

When I had finished eating about half of my bowl of mushroom soup, Mr. Idogawa came into the room looking for me. I welcomed him and offered him the wild mushroom soup. I told him that the wild mushroom soup was already tested and was safe to eat. However, he refused the wild mushroom soup and told us why with very convincing reasons. He taught us that the whole mushrooms used in cooking can not be accurately inspected for radioactivity because mushrooms must be crushed and dried to obtain accurate radioactivity values when testing them.

Despite knowing that these wild mushrooms could be dangerous, because they are easily contaminated by radiation, I was careless and ate soup containing various types of wild mushrooms. The local people told me that mushroom hunting was very enjoyable, but they refrained from doing so after the nuclear disaster. They were so happy that finally they could eat mushrooms and they offered them to their guests.

This delicious and sad taste remained in the memory of the locals and myself. I had to throw away the rest of the very tasty mushroom soup, that was kindly offered, because I didn't know if it was safe or dangerous.The locals accepted the judgements and advice of Mr. Idogawa who ordered evacuation of his town after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. We are all victims of radiation. What we do not know about radiation and radiation levels, can make us act dangerously.

Watasage Valley Railway

I met a very nice local woman who attended this event. A few days later she invited me back to Ashio. When I was invited to visit her in Ashio, I realized that many subjects I am involved with are in Ashio. She gave me a beautiful, very personal, and very emotional tour of Ashio throughout her lifetime. The persistent environmental damage from Ashio's copper mining makes it seem like time is frozen. My nostalgic feelings melted into the natural scenery. I traced the memories of prosperity and downfall. I wanted to know what this town experienced, as a lesson for our future. I promised this local Ashio woman that I would come back next year. 

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