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Fukushima Buddhist Spring Festival

Photographer: Everett Kennedy Brown

 

A positive fall-out from the triple catastrophes of March 2011 that saw a massive earthquake, followed by a devastating tsunami and a potentially mass life-threatening nuclear disaster is the annual Daihanya Buddhist Spring Festival held at the Fukujuji temple in Miharu, northern Japan.

 

The festival supports the mental welfare of victims of the wave of devastation – victims who were forced to leave their homes in the nuclear contaminated areas. Temple members invite these victims to the festival to help them overcome the trauma they have experienced – and in many cases continue to.

 

One of the leading lights behind the ‘project’ is Fukushima resident Genyu Sokyu, a Buddhist monk and major literary award winning novelist has vowed to remain in Fukushima, no matter what. He plays an active role in restoration efforts and has been drawing attention to the plight of Fukushima by publishing day-to-day accounts of the disaster's aftermath.

 

Sokyu writes: "Even though I'm painfully aware of the countless numbers of people who are still suffering, there is a limit to what a single person can do. Our only hope is to pray. Yet realizing how powerless one is, and finding resilience through prayer, does not mean that one is content to do nothing. I believe that we are able to draw strength from our prayers, the strength that enables us to move forward."

 

Two years after the Great East Japan Earthquake, global attention remains focused on the repercussions of the nuclear accident that hit Fukushima, in the wake of the tsunami disaster. Many people in Fukushima are still living in dire straits.