On March 11, 2011, Fukushima faced an unexampled tragic situation of radioactive contamination caused by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster by TEPCO on top of the damages caused through the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami.
"Project FUKUSHIMA!" was started with representative of a musician and a poet from Fukushima together with volunteers across the nation.
Two months after the earthquake, we made the following declaration from Fukushima.
"On August 15, 2011, we will hold a festival focused on music in Fukushima. We will also carry out diverse projects on a long-term basis using this event as a springboard. The title for the event is Fukushima! ... Through the festival, we will let the entire world know about Fukushima as it is now, and as it will be in the future. We are determined to turn Fukushima into a positive word."
Since then, we have held the festival annually on August 15, which is a day of special signiﬁcance for the Japanese people.
With many people facing the potential loss of their hometowns, the first year in particular had a sense of desperation about it. The festival boasted the slogan "the future is in our hands." and although we were not experts, we measured radioactivity at the venue by ourselves, and covered a grassy expanse of six thousand square meters with "O-Furoshiki" (big wrapping cloth) made by sewing together fabric gathered from all over. The eventattracted over ten thousand people from around the prefecture, up and down Japan, and across the world.
For the second festival, held in 2012 under the theme "Flags Across Borders," we remade the gigantic furoshiki into hundreds of ﬂags with all sorts of designs, and hoisted them in the town. The theme reﬂects the situation in Fukushima, in which divisions--Decontaminate or seek refuge? Promote or oppose?--can be found everywhere.
And on the 3rd festival in 2013 was titled "Noryo! Bon Odori," and focused on dancing and enjoying the cool of the summer evening. We danced an original Bon Odori folk dance called "Eejanaika Ondo" ("Who cares?!") to a live band. It was certainly not a dance song that expressed approval of the current situation. On the contrary, it carried a message of biting criticism, and yet the major topic was not simply saying what we are for or against, but attempting to communicate Fukushima's unique flavor and culture. The joy of dancing stimulates the instinctive human desire to live, to be alive. At the venue in Fukushima City, five thousand people danced, sang, and played music, moving in undulating patterns around the yagura stage towers and "O-Furoshiki".
Every year since then we had chosen "Bon Odori" as theme of the festival, first time to have the same in series from previous year. We are willing to have this summer dance festival in Fukushima continuously.
O-Furoshiki (big wrapping cloth) is a gigantic patch-work made with fabric pieces donated from all over the country. It was to prevent radioactive contamination and in the first year it covered approximately 6000 square meter of the site. Now this colorful O-Furoshiki exudes unique presence as a visual symbol. It stands for diversity of our project, collaboration and festivity, and plays a very important role in our festival.
After the third year, an interesting thing started to occur. We began to receive invitations to take part in festivals and art events being held in different areas. O-Furoshiki were exchanged, and people went back and forth to help at these locations, which eventually turned into a natural exchange of goods and people. With the passage of time, it felt like the event was leaving the hands of Project FUKUSHIMA! and becoming something that belonged to the local communities. It even seemed as if the people involved were enjoying the way things were rolling about without any context. So spread out the O-furoshiki and let's all dance to the Eejanaika Ondo, as our hearts beat with excitement to the expansive world beyond.
and much more coming...
Festival FUKUSHIMA ! 2011
Festival FUKUSHIMA ! 2012
Festival FUKUSHIMA ! 2013