Huge loss for photography today with the death of Shomei Tomatsu. His quiet, personal approach to national devastation inspired an entire generation of photographers, filmmakers, and writers.
All photos by Shomei Tomatsu:
House 9, Amakusa Shimoshima Island, Kumamoto Prefecture, 1959
From: The Skin of the Nation
“Time Stopped at 11:02, 1945, Nagasaki,” 1961, and “Bottle Melted and Deformed by Atomic Bomb Heat, Radiation, and Fire, Nagasaki,” 1961
A huge loss. Magnificent artist.
Amida Buddha is the heart of Shin Buddhist faith and practice. First revealed by the historical Buddha over 2,600 years ago, the name Amida is Japanese which is derived from Amitabha or Amitayus of the ancient Sanskrit language, which means ‘Immeasurable Life and Light’ or Oneness. The word Amida is a personification or symbol for the transcendent reality and mystery, which is “unborn, uncreated and formless” which is also known as dharmakaya, nirvana, shunyata (emptiness).
Amida Buddha is a personification expressing that which is incomprehensible. This inconceivable transcendent realm is called Dharmakaya, which is Sanskrit meaning ‘the body of truth.’ This word points to the non-conceptual ultimate dimension and the true nature of things including ourselves. Amida Buddha in turned is the sambhogakaya or the compassionate expression of this formless transcendent realm. She gives us a concrete image that helps us to understand that which is beyond understanding. Amida is also synonymous with the terms One Life, the Great Compassion and Buddha Nature.
Buddha is a term meaning a few things: firstly, it is any life form that has awakened to boundlessness; secondly, it is the deepest nature of all things, which is undifferentiated and selfless; and thirdly, it is our inner potential, reality and destiny to live a life of pure compassion and wisdom.
Read more about Amida Buddha
~reblogged by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Touch Wood in a Japanese Forest with Bach
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Go to the woods of Kyushu, Japan. Engineer a massive xylophone (or is it a marimba?) to run down the slope of a forested hill. Take a wooden ball, place it at the top of said instrument, and push it. What do you get? Bach’s treatment of a traditional church hymn! Namely, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.”
And, all this for a Japanese commercial for a kidney-shaped smartphone with the tagline, “Touch Wood.” I may be late to the party on this one, but when I think of all the time it took to set this up, the precision and measurements used to adjust it and actually make each piece, and how many takes the film crew shot, it continues to inspire even if it’s a year old.
And, here you can see how it was made:
Rubber Ducky, You’re the One!
If there’s one thing the Japanese have mastered, it’s the art of fire and bathing. And these two men do not disappoint. Yasuyoshi Chiba’s triumphant photo of two men bathing in this makeshift ofuro captures the passion of this long-standing tradition. Even if Kesennuma city is in ruins, taking a hot tubby is not only making the best out of a difficult situation, it’s necessary to the human spirit!
(h/t Front Pages for doing what they do and the WSJ.)
Prayers for Japan
A lovely post from Your Beautiful Mind worth reblogging:
Thousands of wooden prayer tablets, ema, hang outside Meiji Jingu, a Shinto shrine. Japanese are not normally religious, but during times of crisis they often revert back to traditional beliefs. Prayers for disaster victims and the nuclear crisis are written and hung around a divine tree. In a special ceremony, Shinto priests burn the prayers as an offering.
Thousands of prayer tablets hung in one day testify that the crisis in Japan continues to grow and people are trying to find ways to cope. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear site has been rated a five on a seven-point international scale for atomic incidents, just two levels lower than the Ukraine’s 1986 Chernobyl disaster. The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog warns that stabilizing the plant is a race against time. In Japan’s disaster-ravaged northeast, 6,405 people are confirmed dead and about 10,200 are listed missing.
While most Westerners often are preoccupied with causes of disaster — the questions of why God would allow an earthquake, for example — Eastern traditions like Buddhism and Shinto focus on behavior in reaction to tragedy. It is very important in Japanese life to react in a positive way, to be persistent and to clean up in the face of adversity.
(image and text source here)
shared by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Overwhelming Video of Tsunami Taking Out Entire Japanese Fishing Town
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
The plethora of footage showing the ravaging impact of the earthquake and resulting tsunami on Japanese cities and infrastructure pale in comparison to this hand-held video above. Many of us have seen this BBC video of Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture, a fishing town situated at the tip of a bay on the Pacific Ocean in northeastern Japan; but, when you watch the embedded video shot from, what I can glean to be, the rooftop of an engineering building, you get a deeper sense of why human casualties are numbering at more than 18,000 so far.
I imagined that tsunamis crush everything in their path with a massive series of waves and wild storms, but what you see here — besides this camera operator’s steadfast, fearless determination to capture it all — is the rushing water engulf Japan’s capital of the shark fin trade in a matter of minutes. While the water rises, the town sinks.
If cars can float like fishing bobbers on top of the flood waters and huge white storage tanks wander restlessly, the amount of debris displaced must be unfathomable. Robert Hood of MSNBC gives you a better sense of this. He created the panoramic shot below to show an on-the-ground view of the devastating aftermath of the video you see above.
(via Laughing Squid)
My Wish for Japan: A Softness Touching the Earth
by Sharon Kingston, guest contributor
Japan has been on all our minds and in all our hearts. There doesn’t seem to be enough capacity in the human soul to witness nature unleash its force on man in this way. Helplessness still sits with us even after the contributing of funds to relief efforts.
The magnitude of the disaster and continuing saga has made us all feel vulnerable to the uncertainty of life. We can’t fathom how recovery can possibly follow such devastation.
Then there’s me here in my studio just painting clouds and wondering how what I do could possibly matter. And then today I happened upon this Rilke poem after I finished the painting shown above. And the words could not be more profound and with them my painting feels right again.
Threshold of Spring
Harshness gone. All at once caring spread over
the naked gray of the meadows.
Tiny rivulets sing in different voices.
A softness, as if from everywhere,
is touching the earth.
Paths appear across the land and beckon.
Surprised once again you sense
its coming in the empty tree.
—from “A Year With Rilke: Daily Readings from the Best of Rainer Maria Rilke” (translated and edited by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows)
Sharon Kingston is an oil painter of invented and imagined spaces infused with metaphor and poetry. Her most recent paintings, the Reading Rilke series, have been inspired by the writings and poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. She lives in Bellingham, Washington.
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The Economic Toll of Natural Disasters, but What about Other Manifestations?
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
“The estimated damage from Japan’s combined earthquake and tsunami make it the world’s most expensive natural disaster since 1965. The world’s second most costly natural disaster also took place in Japan, the 1995 Kobe Earthquake, whose losses totaled nearly 2 percent of the country’s GDP, according to this graphic compiled by The Economist.”
These figures matter, but they lack personality. They don’t put a face on the psychological trauma and steel that pervades cultures for subsequent generations. How does one measure the impact and manifestations of these natural disasters on people who live through it and beyond it?
I’m sure there are data crunchers that try to account for ideas like this, and many others that often go unreported. Can somebody help point me to some of these sources?