Translated Versions

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Project Description

NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN: A 300 Mile Photography Trek walked by Mark Paul to Document the Inner Strength of the Japanese People in the Aftermath of the March Earthquake Tsunami, and current Nuclear Crisis.


On March 11, 2011 an earthquake of 9.0 magnitude occurred in the North Eastern part of Japan. Within days, the people of the provinces of Morioka, Sendai, and Fukushima had lost over 14,662 people to death. Over 12,000 people remain missing and close to 127,000 people displaced as a result of the Earthquake, Tsunami that followed and nuclear crisis that resulted from the natural catastrophes.

While much has been documented by the International Press, the majority of the international news has been “focused on worst case scenarios and treated the catastrophe as an event or project forecasting long term consequences and future scenarios.” The Japanese government and government funded NHK “are constrained from speaking about worst case scenarios;” by doing this they are preventing mass panic in Japan. The focus of the people has been to deal with the crisis immediately at hand. In the town of Noda, an English speaking teacher from New Zealand Georgina Robinson, noted “[the Japanese] do not waste time feeling sorry for themselves or lamenting the loss of their homes and possessions. Instead they do what needs to be done, even if it is an unpleasant task or the conditions are bad. Nobody complains, or gets angry.

The people of Japan have and amazing inner strength and fortitude to rise above in difficult situations. The images seen on television and the news media outlets do not reflect this inner strength of the Japanese people or what is occurring in Japan at present.

Currently, refugee camps have been established to attend to the needs of the displaced. And while the formal numbers are listed as 127,000 people being displaced, there is an estimated 500,000 total who have been effected directly and our receiving some type of assistance either through housing or services at the refugee camps. Astonishingly the Japanese have been there to support one another and help without any displays of negative behavior such as looting or violence out of frustration. Local Merchants have become the source of food and supplies while the greater distribution system used by major grocery and department chains have gone down.
Twitter has become the main form of news source for locals.

The local prefect governments have already begun to organize teams to rebuild. It is estimated that it will take about a half a year to one year to clean the infrastructure. Rebuilding will take between 4-5 years to rebuild the area. This does not include the radiation or issues caused by the nuclear power plants in Fukushima and Sendai.

Along with the physical issues are social issues:

- There are many displaced children with parents still missing presumed dead.

- The elderly and mentally and physically disabled are also another issue needed to be addressed.

- Animals. There are many domesticated animals that need to be placed in homes and that are also malnourished and in need of medical care.

- Unemployment is crucial. A good portion of the people displaced and effected worked in farming, fishing, and local businesses.

- The farmland once fertile with the best rice in Japan, is now useless for the next 3-5 years due to the salt content in the soil as a result of the Tsunami.

- Rebuilding the infrastructure so basic services can be put back in place.

-The quelling of rumors in relation to the nuclear plants that have created mass hysteria.

While the disaster may be finished for the world it will continue for the Japanese people over the next few years. It actually will become more complex and difficult. As a photojournalist my goal is to create a book that will remind the world of the inner strength of the Japanese people and also create an awareness about the potential hazards that await if nuclear power is not contained.

Project Timetable and Execution

In August 2011 I will visit the area effected by the earthquake and walk over 300 miles photographing and documenting the people of the Morioka, Sendai, and Fukushima provinces as they address their current issues and deal with the social, economic, and physical ramifications of the current crisis affecting them. I will start in Fukushima and walk to the Nuclear Reactor site in Iwaki, I then will walk North and visit every city within the prefectures up to Misawa which is in Iwate. I plan to take a humanistic approach that will not only reflect the best that the country has to offer but also show the world a first person perspective of what is currently the situation in North Eastern Japan. I plan to bring catastrophe to the viewer through images.

In order to do this I have been in close contact with Etsuko Ichinose at the Japanese General Consulate in Los Angeles. I also have communicated with local government prefects in Japan to be allowed special permission and to work within collaboration to visit shelters, hospitals, schools, factories, the area around the nuclear power plants at Fukushima and Onagawa and areas hit hardest by the tsunami and earthquake including Rikuzen-takata and Higashi-matsushima and Ishinomaki. The following prefects have been contacted:
The City of Sendai

I fully understand that this project is not without personal risks but as a photojournalist it is important that I tell the story on the behalf of the silent heroes and victims. I am hopeful that my images will remind the world of the inner strength and integrity that the Japanese possess. And that they will not be forgotten.

Part One Funding

The funds will be used for actual costs: I am scheduled to fly out to Japan on August 5th and will begin my walk in August 8th through September 8th. The funds raised will go toward my travel costs from Los Angeles to Japan, a translator, transportation, food, housing while in Tokyo, and survival equipment. Since I am walking and I will not have access to hotels in the regions devastated by the earthquake I will be for the most part sleeping a tent, and carrying supplies in addition to my camera equipment. . The second part of the project will use the funds to publish a 50-100 page photography book with images and create Photographic prints to be exhibited in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Berlin, Barcelona, Paris, Athens, and London and possibly Mexico City, Buenos Aires, as well as Auckland, Melbourne, Sydney, and finally Tokyo over a 4 year time span.

PART TWO The Walkathon

I realize that I could actually do much more than simply awareness. So I will be raising funds for Kids Project Japan ( and an animal non-profit to benefit Japan. They will be taking pledges from the public and I in return will be sending them pictures to give to their pledges every time I hit a certain mile increment.

PART THREE Telling the story...

While I am in Japan I will be blogging about my experience and keeping the public as well as family, friends and donors informed of my progress and findings. I am going to be shooting with a CANON 7D Video clips as well as My trusty Nikon D200.

If your interested in donating money please contact me at . I do accept PayPal as well.

For every donation over $25 dollars I will be emailing you a photograph from a specified 10 Mile Marker increment.

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