“Soma Nomaoi(Soma wild horse chase)” that has been designated as a significant intangible folk cultural asset was held on 27 to 29 July in Minami Soma city which is located 40 km away from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. There is still evacuation zone in a part of this city. More than 400 horses with people costumed samurai paraded streets and did horse racing. It was originally for training samurai, and it has been handed down for over 1000 years. After the nuclear accident, Nomaoi has been reported on medeia as a symbol of recovery from the disaster. This year more than 160,000 people came to this festival to see the cultural event and to support Fukushima. But recovery in Fukushima has lots of contradiction. Nuclear plant is not under the control and people who are living in contaminated area is still trying decontamination. The problem is still there.
The word “Restoration of Fukushima” has overflown in Japan, but problems are not solved and talking about radiation is a kind of taboo.This photo story focuses on a farmer who provides horses to “Soma Nomaoi.” He is living in an evacuation area.
What does “Recovery” mean to people who are living in Fukushima?
Iitate village with its 6,500 residents was a municipality located about 40km away from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. After the nuclear disester, this village is designated as an evacuation zone, and nobody canʼt get permission to live there due to high contamination.
Hosokawa farm is one of the biggest farms in Iitate village and has been run for more than 100 years. Tokue Hosokawa is the third generation of this farm. He and his daughter Miwa aged 27 train horses to provided them all over Japan for TV commercial, drama, cinema and some festivals which need horses.
A month after the accident, Fukushima prefecture decided to cull domestic animals which were living in the evacuation zone. Animals remained there were not fed. Some became wild and some died of hunger. The reason to cull horses was “hygiene management”.
However, Hosokawa continued to feed his horses going from the place he refuged after the accident. And he fed them so as not to let the prefecture kill his horses. He had about 130 horses in his farm before the accident. And 86 horses evacuated to another place.
About 30 horses have remained in Hosokawa farm because he could’t find a place for them to refuge. He has been continuing to feed them. He and his daughter also helped 752 horses and caws to move from an evacuation zone to a safe place using 2 trucks just after the accident. According to Kyodo news, more than 1300 caws were culled until December 2012.
From the beginning of 2013, 16 horses including foals died in succession for 6 months in Fosokawa Farm. Experts performed an autopsy on a dead body, but they couldn’t find a main cause of their sudden death. Health center of Fukushima took their blood test and inspection, and the result showed that the causes were not infectious desease and parasitic warm. Symptoms were very similar. Once they became unable to walk, they died between several weeks.
This May, he tried to reveal the cause of their sudden death, and he decided to euthanize a horse whose symptom was similar to the other dead horses. And femoral muscle was detected cesium 200 becquerel/ kg by the researcher veterinarian Dr.Hiroyuki Ichikawa. They are studying this data tying to find the effect for their sudden death.
“I could live here thanks to my horses, so I can’t leave here without them. I have lived with horses since I was a child. So horses are my family. I can accept culling, if these horses have infectious desease. But they are fine. This is totally unacceptable. One day, I helped a cow which was pregnant. After evacuating from theMzaoyne2,0a13. calf was born. Unfortunately, his mother died of hunger. But this calf is still alive in another prefecture. I was very happy to help her baby,” he said.
Their most proudly work is to provide horses to intangible cultural asset named “SOMA NOMAOI(Soma wild horse chase)”. He provided about 60 horses to this event before the accident. But this year he provided about 20 horses. He provide horses that is from the other farm. Mainly these horses were trained by Hosokawa once. He couldn’t provide horses from own farm in iitate this year. However some horses that training was not enought were trained in Hosokawa farm.
“There is no future in this village. Only my house that light is going up in the night. Newspaper and mail doesn’t carry to my post. No restaurants and no shops… No people dosen’t come to my house. Only raccoon dog and fox comes to my house. Japan becomes such a pathetic country. After the accidents, 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 these foals died… There is no future. Nobody want to live without future. Here is Japan. Do you think it is really okay with this situation in Japan?” He said.
His daughter has a tattoo on her feet to remind herself of her decision to quit her job and go back to her father’s farm. It read “Hosokawa Farm.” “You can know I am Miwa of Hosokawa Farm, wherever I die.” she said.