J Saldron, Buddhist News, Feb 18 2012
FUKUSHIMA, Japan — On March 11, 2011, a massive earthquake of magnitude 9.0 triggered a catastrophic Tsunami, causing deadly destruction of the northeastern region off Japan. This earthquake was the strongest magnitude recorded in the history of Japan. 12 prefectures were affected by this natural disaster with 15,848 death and 3,305 missing reported as of February 10, 2012 according to National Police Agency of Japan.
It has been ten months after the natural disaster which destroyed numerous lives and habitats where people used to call their hometown. People in Japan are still trying to recover from their great loss and preserve what they have left of it. The radioactive contamination still remains and it is still going to affect many lives and generations to come.
“Plants, trees, flowers, and even frogs just live their lives naturally as it is. Even if what happened might be unnatural, I will naturally not think how to resolve it.”
At a devastating event, there are people who pray, who help, and who serve and protect. We would like to share these images to inspire and remind ourselves that each prayers, voice, and inspiration are heard and delivered, and remains as a constant reminder that there are people who care about each lives.
Rebuilding their Hometown
In Fukushima prefecture, the local people are very positive and work hard daily to rebuild their destroyed cities. Venerable Abe from Jyoen Temple has organized a group of local people to remove polluted soils and objects with radiation away from their habitats. The group is distributing and planting 120 million seeds for free to encourage the positive minds by creating a new home full of flower blossoms by the spring. Sunflowers and other plants have ability to absorb radioactive substances.
There are about 100 volunteers from the local community and a local organization to help in his project. “No one complained when I had the idea to receive all the radioactive soils. We used to work together like this a century ago in Edo period. Even an idea from one monk, a large number of people can work together on a project. It is because there is trust. The trust between the government and the citizens has been broken. That is the reason why there is a delay in receiving rescue from the government. ” said, Ven. Abe.
Venerable Abe protects and serves his community by accepting polluted garbage
Venerable Abe in front of the sunflower background has a project to clean the radioactive soils and objects away from the areas where people frequent or live, and distributes free sunflower and tenderstem broccoli flower seeds – to encourage this challenging course of recovery for the people of Fukushima prefecture. “I don’t want to live in the outcome but to live in the process”, said Ven. Abe.
“Even an idea from one monk, a large number of people can work together on a project. It is because there is trust.”
Love for their Hometown
Ven. Abe uses a piece of his backyard of the temple to deposit radioactive soil and objects. The radio active grade rates at 30 microsievert. Ven. Abe works on this site by himself after the polluted garbage gets transported.
To Ven. Abe’s right is his friend, Usui to help carry the radioactive garbage. He gives and dedicates his life to his people in taking this task of handling radioactivity for the love of his hometown and because he believes in the interconnectedness of the local community.
“To take people’s problems and to give my life for others is my job.”
Venerable Kouyu Abe from Jyoen temple happily accepts radioactive soils and objects from people of Fukushima who don’t know where to deposit them. He also accepts flowers and plants which absorbed radiation.
“Plants, trees, flowers, and even frogs just live their lives naturally as it is. Even if what happened might be unnatural, I will naturally not think how to resolve it.” said, Ven. Abe.
Since the tragedy, there are many people with serious issues constantly visit the temple to seek for advice. “People just want to have their smiles back.” said Ven. Abe and sealed his mouth tight to not let tears out.
To express your appreciation to Venerable Abe and Jyoen Temple, please contact: Jyoen Temple, Yamaguchi-terayashiki 4, Fukushima city, Fukushima prefecture, Postal code 960-8202, Japan Telephone number: +81-024-533-2829 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn about the project please go to: www.hananinegaiwo.jp (in Japanese)
Prayers for the victims
Venerable Yotaro praying daily for the deceased ones on foot wearing traditional Japanese Waraji under the snow was spotted at several prefectures and cities, including Iwate and Miyagi prefectures right after the disaster in April 2011.