Hisashi Murayama, The Weight Of Time

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This is the record of daily fights of one small fishing village to recover and unite for the future between hopes and anxiety.

The small fishing village of Maeami-Hama, in northeastern Japan, was struck by the tsunami of March 11, 2011. Out of 23 houses, only 5 survived, and the entire seaport was swept away. Maeami-Hama’s residents essentially lost everything except their lives. In the two years since, the residents have been living in temporary housing, putting their shattered lives back together in piecemeal fashion. With government help along with donations from all over the world, they have been able to purchase new boats, equipment, and temporary container units. Even so, large amounts of debt have had to be taken on, as the fishermen attempt to rebuild their businesses to support their families and community. The people of Maeami-Hama are strongly united by the old fishermen’s traditions that they have been handed down from their ancestors: at the local shrine they pray to the god of the sea; they follow the ancient custom of families helping one another, without question or limit.

Though I tried to be sparing in my questions to these men, most of my queries were met with rather weary stock replies, along the lines of that they want to rebuild their homes and port as soon as possible, or that they are frustrated by the pace of rebuilding but nonetheless have to earn a living, etc. Then I realised that perhaps I was looking to them to help write the story I expected to write, and that they had answered these questions many times before. It was then, feeling a bit discomfited, that I chose to stop trying to interview the men, and began just trying to exist alongside them. I helped them with physical chores, listened to their conversations, sometimes related my own stories, and occasionally took some photos when something caught my eyes. But mainly I let the time pass.

The only thing I’ve sometimes felt that I’ve truly understood was the enormous existence of time. It’s as if I can actually see the physical weight of it, every single second borne on one’s shoulders.

Location: Japan | Photographer: Hisashi Murayama | Website: www.hisashimurayama.com

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