Broken Things (こわれたもの) is a photography book by Sam Seager. The photos in the book were taken over the two weeks which Sam spent in Tohoku, northeastern Japan, a year after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of 11th March, 2011. Photographed in Kamaishi, Rikuzentakata and the island of Oshima, the book shows people and landscapes in an ongoing struggle to recover from the disaster.
The hiragana text on the cover of the book, reading こわれたもの (kowaretamono / Broken Things), was created from a map of the coastline of Iwate and Miyagi prefectures. “The characters are an abstract visualisation of some of the many bays and inlets that are a feature of this strikingly beautiful area of Japan“, says Sam.
The book begins with an eerie picture of a clock stopped at the time the earthquake hit, 14.46, but many of the images show a sense of community spirit and the efforts that are in place to rebuild.
In the centre of the book there is a shot of the calm ocean, which caught my breath a little.
Although this is perhaps not the kind of book you would want to sit and look at every day (I felt very sad while looking through the images, thinking yet again about what happened), there are some inspiring photographs in the book, and I felt encouraged to see that people are still smiling, and trying to get on with their lives.
The title of the book, Broken Things, is a reference to both physical and emotional damage. There is a Japanese phrase – ‘gare-ki’ – which a retired English teacher translated to Sam as ‘broken things’, although a more accurate translation would be ‘rubbish’ or ‘debris’. His words carried something meaningful for Sam though, and became the title of his book.
Proceeds from the sales of Broken Things will be donated to two charities based in the affected areas, O.G.A. for Aid and It’s Not Just Mud.
O.G.A for Aid is based in Minamisanriku where their mission is to establish a long-term support system which local residents and victims of the disaster may use to regain their lives and livelihoods. They have also launched a green farming project where unused farmland is being put back into use by unemployed local people. www.ogaforaid.org
It’s Not Just Mud is a vibrant volunteer organisation operating from two tsunami damaged houses in Ishinomaki. The constantly revolving mix of foreign and Japanese volunteers are helping in many different ways in the local area, including clearing debris, rebuilding homes and helping to set up activity groups and businesses in temporary housing. www.itsnotjustmud.com
To find out more and to get your copy, please visit: Sam Seager Photography.