Photos found in tsunami aftermath displayed

by Minoru Matsutani

Staff Writer

Most are faded or discolored by seawater and the elements. About 1,500 photos found in the aftermath of the March 11 tsunami — snaps of daily life, such as small children at play and friends gathered around a dinner table — are on display at a Tokyo art gallery.

“Many photographers took many photos of debris and other things in the tsunami-ravaged areas, but our photos show another side of the truth about the disaster,” said Tomoki Matsumoto, manager of the Akaaka gallery in Nishi-Azabu in Minato Ward. “Some people say these photos are beautiful.”

The exhibition, titled “Lost & Found,” runs through Feb. 11. Visitors are welcome from noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. Admission is free.

The exhibition was organized by photo book publisher Akaaka Art Publishing Inc., the city of Yamamoto, in Miyagi Prefecture, and 31-year-old photographer Munemasa Takahashi, who volunteered to clean the photos and return them to their owners in the town.

About 19,200 photos were returned and the rest, whose owners couldn’t be found, were given to Takahashi. He chose the 1,500 photos on display at Akaaka from the approximately 30,000 he keeps at home. According to Matsumoto, it is thought that 200,000 to 300,000 photos were lost in Yamamoto.

Posters of some of the photos with messages from the “Lost & Found” project organizer are for sale at the gallery for ¥1,000, with 70 percent of the proceeds going to a nonprofit aiding people in temporary housing in Yamamoto.

The same photos will be displayed at the Hiroshi Watanabe Studio in Los Angeles from March 8 to 25.