Beyond the Vast Wasteland
24 poems and photographs of life after the Great Earthquake of East Japan.
Excerpt from Prologue
Beyond the Vast Wasteland
“Beyond the vast wasteland” ? the theme of the poems in this book ? are words used to describe the crushing damage done to communities along the northern coast by the earthquake disaster. The towns and villages turned into rubble as far as the eye can see suddenly became what should be called a “wasteland.”
These were places where in an instant the livelihoods of people and their lives all stopped. From such places of endlessly-continuing devastation, we must begin a new journey together with the victims of the disaster. To do this, we will need to build a new spirit and the strength to carry out the journey. And then, we will have to demonstrate it.
I would like to further express my feelings about the meaning of the words, “beyond the vast wasteland.”
Perhaps we from the start should call not just the disaster area but also the world we live in a “wasteland.”
Even though the world prides itself on its affluent material civilization, and a safe and comfortable environment has been built through progress in science and technology, people cannot escape the various trials they must face in life. Things that we think are certain suddenly collapse. Things that we believe are immutable will change. And at times, conditions are created so that everything is lost.
There is a relentless flow in this world that leans to collapse and disorder.
As a result, people exist in a reality in which they must bear pain. Even now, far from the disaster zone, there are many people facing severe ordeals that they cannot do anything about. I call that kind of world a “vast wasteland.” The earthquake disaster thrusts at us the truth about the world we live in and the pain there that we cannot describe in words. For that reason, I feel there has been some kind of great change in us since the earthquake. I believe such change must continue. To that extent there is deep meaning in calling such a situation a “national crisis.”
How should we now view the world? What should people now seek? What should we bequest to the next generation?
The impressions I felt there at the actual sight of the disaster led me to write this book, centered on a new set of poems, in which traces of my inner thoughts are interwoven. Each page was constructed with photos taken for this book. The poems contain my earnest prayers directed to the present time.
Poems in Requiem
Facing the Ordeals in Life
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