Jake Price returns to Japan

Tohoku in Japan

Two years ago in March 2011 photographer Jake Price made his way to Japan following the earthquake and tsunami that left more than 18,000 people dead or missing and also caused the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

I reported on his work at the time and indeed the many visits he has made since whilst working on a long term documentary project which eventually became UnknownSpring. This tells the story of Yuriage, a small town that was destroyed by the tsunami. This work has recently received an honourable mention in the World Press Photo Multimedia Awards.

Here though I wanted to share his pictures taken whilst travelling along the coast in Tohoku. Seeing the journey as a break of sorts from the project Price didn't take any traditional cameras but just his phone camera, which he says, "proved to be the best tool I could have imagined as these photos came about spontaneously."

These pictures are not news photos, they are reflections of the journey and those he met along the way. Full of mood, and despite their initial sombre appearance, many of the frames are in fact filled with light and perhaps a new dawn.

"Throughout the tsunami zone people's attachment to land stretches back thousands of years," says Price. "Fishermen, farmers, artists, labourers, so many people whom I've met would rather die on their land and risk the consequences of radioactive poisoning or another sudden tsunami than move away and die of a broken heart disconnected from their heritage.

"I have seen the same thing along the Mississippi coastline, in earthquake battered Haiti and in New York after it was struck by hurricane Sandy. In each place identity is intertwined with the land and water. To abandon them is to abandon an essence of what makes us who we are."

A house sinks into what used to be farmland.
Women plant sunflower seeds on land that once was farmland
A fisherman in Tsukihama
A fisherman who was gathering muscles along the coast of Matsushima wades out to the sea.
Rather than leave their land Tsukihama residents live in kasetsus (government provided temporary shelters). Boxy and small living there is depressing, but the residents continue on as best they can.
Shells pile up along the coast in Tona. The shells are stringed together to form oyster beds. With so much destroyed along the coast the shells sit on land as the fishermen rebuild sea structures that would allow them to grow oysters once again.
A fisherman who was gathering muscles and his family along the coast of Matsushima.
Settled nearly 3,000 years ago Tsukihama has a long history. Carved into the mountainside is a small buddhist shrine.
Concrete barriers are placed along the shore to keep the ocean's waves from further battering the land in Tsukihama.

Previous reports from Jake Price on the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan:

Pictures from Japan weeks after the tsunami

OAudio slideshow: One month after the tsunami in Natori

Audio slideshow: Six months on in Yuriage

Yuriage one year on

Phil Coomes, Picture editor Article written by Phil Coomes Phil Coomes Picture editor

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