And four years later...still gathering up the broken pieces.
Yet we can forget so fast.
History. Tradition. Culture. Reality.
Inner strength. Outer conflicts. Change.
The quiet revolution.
Feel the heart of Tohoku through the voices, music, dances, and dreams of survivors in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima provinces.
Watch for this new feature documentary to be released soon in 2015.
Behind the scenes from the director:
My response to the Tohoku disaster came naturally as a mother, grandmother, and a Canadian of Japanese ancestry who deeply loves Japan. I initially went to Tohoku as one of many volunteers, and not as a filmmaker.
The more time I spent along the devastated coastline of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, and the more Tohoku people I met, my role in Tohoku gradually changed, not out of my own initiative or desire, but as another way to help using my profession.
Many victims asked and sometimes even begged to help them tell their stories in film, but I resisted.
One day this changed while I walked alone on the empty, deserted streets of Odaka, Fukushima located within the 20 km ‘no-go’ zone affected by the nuclear power plant explosion. It brought me to tears and began a two year dialogue with Tohoku people in this documentary, Tohoku no Shingetsu: A New Moon over Tohoku.
Perhaps being a foreigner (Canadian), a third generation Japanese Canadian, and a woman helped them and me in this process. Maybe it allowed Japanese victims to trust me with their stories so openly and succinctly. Maybe it helped me understand some things that are unspoken in their words, their song and their dance.
After our interviews, many people expressed how important it was to finally speak about their pains, losses, joys, fears, anger, love…and I could visibly see that this process of storytelling was an important part of their personal healing.
The Tohoku people help us recognize what it is that makes each of us human. We can’t ignore them so easily and loose the opportunity to learn about living, dying, being Japanese, and being human. In this techno-disposable world, something so organic and living helps us remember these things.
Award winning Canadian cinematographer, Kirk Tougas, came to join me for one month from Canada as my cameraman. He later wrote:
“Working with Ohama in Japan I couldn’t help but marvel at the depths with which she connected with people who have experienced the harshest tragedy. Reserved, quiet-spoken Japanese were willing to share with her their innermost thoughts and feelings, words that they might not even voice to their closest friends, and never in public…
The samurai we filmed is real, not a movie star, and the centuries old tradition of discipline and horsemanship continues. The dancers we filmed are young, yet the dances link back through the centuries, and these young women dance for a generation claiming a right to a future. The childhood song sung by many film participants resonated in the Japanese soul, a lament seeking to regain the marvel of home…..” (Kirk Tougas, cinematographer)
Linda Ohama, Producer-Director
Tohoku no Shingestu: A New Moon over Tohoku
Upcoming Lectures and Seminars for 2015-2016
Tohoku University students in Sendai, Miyagi
Now accepting limited bookings for classes, workshops, & presentations
beginning in Fall 2015
Japanese Association for Canadian Studies (JACS)
40th Annual Conference, Tokyo, Presenter
September 12 - 13, 2015
International Career Seminar 2015
Tochigi, "Creative Expression without Borders"
October 10 - 12, 2015
Kobe University, Kobe
October 17, 2015
Kaisei High School, Tokyo
Creative thinking in English
November 15, 2015
Chukyou University, Nagoya
Intensive Filmmaking Seminar/Workshop
Fall 2015 classes, dates TBA
Aichi Medical University Nagoya
Aichi Shokuoku University
International Christian University of Tokyo
Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo
Kanda University, Tokyo
Watari Dori: Bridging 2 Cultures
Arahama, Miyagi fishermen receive donation for lifejackets
OTHER TOHOKU DISASTER SUPPORT that Linda Ohama
has been directly involved in:
1. Coordinator of 'Ganbare Japan 2011' benefit concert, Queen Elizabeth Theatre Vancouver Canada raising over $200,000 donations. See
3. Establish the "Canada-Japan Kids for Kids Cloth Letters" project involving thousands of young people and a national exhibition tour of both Japan and Canada in over 60 cities. (see more below)
The cloth letters from Canada and Tohoku, plus a collection of original photos and poems launched at the Canadian Embassy's Prince Takamado Gallery in Tokyo from October-Decmeber, 2011. This exhibition continues to tour.