At the time of this group’s formation, the majority of these members were those living in refugee shelters of Koriyama City, Fukushima. The meltdown of the nuclear power plant had forced these members to repeatedly move from shelter to shelter, and even after leaving the shelters still found themselves perpetually moving in search of a safe and stable place to live.

The same members who met at our first meeting in Koriyama continue to be active members today. Even those who have since moved away from the city find themselves rushing by express bus or car to attend meetings back in Koriyama.

** Listed at the end of each member profile is their corresponding PhotoVoice title as searchable in the National Women’s Education Center (NWEC) Archive for Post Earthquake Disaster Reconstruction & Women Support, which is linked to the National Diet Library Great East Japan Earthquake Archive Hinagiku. If you find a title that interests you, please click the link to learn more.
You can now check the PhotoVoice listings searchable in that archive here.

Member Profiles

● Kii-chan
I am a housewife in my fifties, a resident of Iwaki City. I was born in Kawauchi Village and used to live in Tomioka Town. Both places are precious hometowns to me. From my parents’ house in Kawauchi we evacuated to Koriyama City, then my husband’s transfer at work took us from Miyagi to Iwaki. Though my family and friends are scattered far apart now, I want to keep living with an optimistic attitude, treasuring every single day.
* In the PhotoVoice Archive: “Hazardous Materials on the Roadside” (2012), “My Home: Close, Yet Far Away” (2012)

● Zenda
I am in my sixties and a housewife. I have always lived in Koriyama City. Most of our house was destroyed, so we took refuge in two different city facilities for four months, including the community center. After that we lived in kariage (leased temporary) housing for a while. I used to enjoy growing vegetables and gathering wild greens, but after the disasters I couldn’t do any of that. Three years in I started growing vegetables in a decontaminated field. We had our house rebuilt nearby.
* In the PhotoVoice Archive: “Unbalanced Diet” (2011), “Wasted Harvest” (2012)

● Yamazakura
I am in my sixties, a resident of Koriyama City and a former government official. Right after the disaster I rode my bicycle around in the rain trying to buy food, and milk and diapers for my grandchild. Now that I think about it, there was quite a lot of radiation pouring down in that rain. In April, a month after the disaster, I started offering consultations to the disaster victims in the city shelters and temporary housing, and I have been doing it ever since. Somehow or other I kept it up, though my feelings remained gloomy; I came to realize that we too have been damaged by the disasters.
* In the PhotoVoice Archive: “Mother and Child” (2012)

● Yokota
I am in my sixties and a housewife. I was born and raised in Tomioka Town. In the course of evacuating we moved to Kawauchi Village, Tamura City, three different places in Tokyo, and finally to kariage (leased temporary) housing in Koriyama. I was surprised at how cold the wind can be in Koriyama! I learned how to make crafts, and enjoyed growing vegetables in a patch of land I rented from an acquaintance. Since then, some connections led us to move to Kawauchi Village.
* In the PhotoVoice Archive: “Sorrowful Home” (2012), “Radioactive Waste on Our Front Step” (2013)

● Yoshida
I am in my fifties and a Buddhist priest’s wife, currently live in Iwaki City. I was born in Futaba Town and used to live in Tomioka Town. We were evacuated to Tamura City, Iwaki City, and Koriyama City. We continue to pay visits to members of our temple who now live in many different places. In addition to my duties with our sect, I volunteer my time talking to elderly people living in temporary housing, studying active listening, and serving as a kataribe (storyteller) spreading the story of the tragedy of Tomioka.
* In the PhotoVoice Archive: “Cat’s Solitude” (2011)