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‘At Kasetsu’ and the poetry of everyday life in temporary housing

by

Special To The Japan Times

Four years have passed since the evacuees displaced by the Fukushima nuclear disaster moved into kasetsu (temporary housing). Many are unable to return home as their houses are still contaminated.

At Kasetsu, by Masaharu Fujishima
Translated by Rie Sakakibara
150 pages.
YUgyosha, Poetry.

In the years since, the lived experiences of these evacuees seem to have been shadowed by media reports. Why have we not heard more of their collective voice?

Masaharu Fujishima, a poet living in a Fukushima kasetsu, raises the volume of that voice as he writes of weeping while tasting food with “all the flavours of my mother’s cooking,” of a day when baby goats arrived and “lights lit up in everyone’s soul.”

This may be vernacular poetry — direct and plain — but Fujishima’s subtly harrowing images linger long.