"Restoration of Fukushima" by Kazuma ...

RESTORATION OF FUKUSHIMA - Soma Nomaoi (Soma wild horse chase), designated as a significant traditional and intangible asset of folk culture, is held on 27 to 29 July 2013 in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, located 40 km away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, while some parts of the city are still considered as evacuation zone. At the festival more than 400 horses with people costumed as samurai parade in the streets and compete in horse racing. Originally a training for samurai, the tradition has been handed down for more than 1'000 years. After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in March 2011, the Nomaoi tradition has been reported as a symbol of recovery from the disaster. This year more than 160'000 people came to the festival to see the cultural event and to support Fukushima. The word "Restoration of Fukushima" has spread around Japan, but recovery in Fukushima is contradictory: The nuclear plant is not under control and people living in the area are still busy with decontamination. It is a very honorable achievement to provide the horses for this traditional significant and intangible asset of folk culture. Before the nuclear accident, Tokue Hosokawa was the main provider and allocated about 60 horses to the Nomaoi. But after the nuclear accident many of his horses died of sudden death. Thus this year (2013), Hosokawa could only allocate around 20 horses which he even had to acquire from a farm located outside the zone. But still - he trained the horses on his own farm in Iitate. In 2011, a month after the nuclear accident, Fukushima Prefecture decided for reasons of "hygiene management" to cull domestic animals which were living in the evacuation zone. Animals which remained there were not fed, some became wild and some died of hunger. Hosokawa continued to feed his horses so as not to let the prefecture kill them. He says, "I live here thanks to my horses, so I can't leave here without them. I'm very sad when they die." But he continues, "There is no future in this village. Only the lights of my house are being turned on in the night. Newspaper and mail are not delivered here anymore. There are no restaurants, no shops... Nobody is coming to my house. Only raccoons, dogs and foxes show up. Japan has become such a depressing country. After the accident, my family fell apart. My daughter tried to commit suicide... I am relieved that she survived. When I saw the foals, I entertained a flicker of hope. But even some young foals died... There is no future. Nobody wants to live without a future. Do you really think it is okay with this situation in Japan?" Miwa, Hokosawa's daughter, has a tattoo on her foot to remind herself of her decision to quit her job and go back to her father's farm. It reads "Hosokawa Farm". She says, "You will know I'm Miwa of Hosokawa Farm, wherever I die." (Text by Kazuma Obara)

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