By STACEY RAVEL ABARBANEL
On March 11, 2011, a devastating magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit the coast of northeastern Japan, triggering a tsunami that sent waves as far as six miles inland.
On the occasion of the one-year anniversary of the disaster, “Moving Forward: Life After the Great East Japan Earthquake,” on display at the Fowler Museum at UCLA from March 4 through April 15, commemorates the victims and the struggles of the survivors and highlights the reconstruction and recovery efforts.
Featuring a series of large-scale photographs, short articles and videos, the exhibition focuses on the stories of those recovering in the Tohoku region, which was hardest hit by the disaster, and how the people of Japan are dealing with this difficult situation and helping one another in their day-to-day lives.
Arresting pictures taken by photographers for a local newspaper, The Kahoku Shimpo, in the hours and days following the quake and tsunami show the unprecedented destruction in the region.
In one, a man and boy walk their bikes through the tangled mass that was once Otsuchi City. In another, a woman carries an elderly lady on her back as they head out of the now-unrecognizable city of Minami-Sanriku-cho. Yet other images captured in the days and months that followed reveal the hope and resilience of the people in this region and the recovery efforts that are now under way.
Several short articles excerpted from The Kahoku Shimpo are reproduced on graphic panels to offer a sampling of astounding stories: an emergency broadcaster who stayed at her microphone to broadcast evacuation warnings yet fled too late herself and perished; “memory search parties” that have sprung up to reunite loved ones with their keepsakes; and hundreds of thousands of volunteers from across Japan who have come to clear streets thick with rubble and sludge.
A symposium is planned in conjunction with the exhibition and the anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami on Saturday, March 10, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. The symposium will include the following participants:
• Hitoshi Abe (moderator), director of UCLA’s Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies, chair of the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design, and curator of the exhibition.
• Christopher Hawthorne (discussant), Los Angeles Times architecture critic.
• Malka Older, “From Relief to Recovery.” Older is a specialist in disaster risk-reduction and emergency preparedness at Save the Children.
• Hideya Terashima, “Covering the Disaster.” Terashima is editor of The Kahoku Shimpo.
• Masashige Motoe, “The Status of Reconstruction in Sendai and ArchiAid’s Response: Architects Respond to the Devastation Caused by the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami.” Motoe is an associate professor in the Department of Architecture and Building Science at Tohoku University’s School of Engineering.
• Toshio Hirano, “JEN’s Emergency Response and Ongoing Recovery Assistance.” Hirano is deputy director of the overseas program department at JEN (Japan Emergency NGO).
• Junko Mabuchi, “In the Wake of Disaster.” Mabuchi is with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).
A reception will follow the symposium.
This exhibition is co-organized by the UCLA Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies and The Kahoku Shimpo, sponsored in part by the Japan Business Association of Southern California, the Japan Foundation, and the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles, and supported by the U.S.-Japan Council.
Special recognition is also extended to the Tohoku Gakuin University Volunteer Station Translation Project team, Mari Ishida, Timothy Unverzagt Goddard, Nathan Smith and Saran Oki.
This exhibition debuted in Washington, D.C., in November 2011 and will be appearing at the Rockefeller Memorial Church in Chicago this month.
The Fowler Museum at UCLA is one of the country’s most respected institutions devoted to exploring the arts and cultures of Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and the Americas. It is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. and Thursday from noon to 8 p.m., and is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
The Fowler, part of UCLA Arts, is located in the north part of the UCLA campus. Admission is free. Parking is available for a maximum of $11 in Lot 4. For more information, call (310) 825-4361 or visit www.fowler.ucla.edu.