I went to ask the trees in Paris what they thought about the situation in Fukushima. It was in the summer of 2012, over a year after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. “I Saw Time, under a Cherry Tree” uses voices of these Parisian trees, as well as sound recordings from Fukushima, Tokyo, Aix-en-Provence, Geneva, and Paris. In Fukushima, I visited Bakkamiki in Minami-Soma, which is believed to be the birthplace of an old and mysterious children’s song called “Kanchororin.” Deep in a foggy mountain by a steep river, the forest of Bakkamiki is now too highly radiated for people to enter. Even in the rest of Minami-soma, and in many other parts of Fukushima, children cannot play outdoors for too long now due to high radiation. “I Saw Time, under a Cherry Tree” quotes this folksong, as well as a poem of the same title I wrote in Japanese. An English translation of the poem is written out at the end of this note.La forêt de Bakkamiki, photo de T.Momiyama
The composition was realized with help from many great people. I would like to thank especially the following:
Mr. Tomio Matsumoto and Mr. Masahiko Sui from Minami-Soma, Fukushima; Mr. Eiichi Sugimoto from Soma, Fukushima; Mr. Rainer Boesch, Studio Espaces (CSMI), Geneva; Mr. Gianluca Ruggeri, Mr. Eloi Calame, Mr. Enrico Chizzolini, and Mr. Valentin Peiry from Geneva; Prof. Arturo Coralles, Conservatoire populaire de musique, danse et theater, Geneva; Ms. Anna Barseghian and Dr. Stefan Kristensen, Utopiana, Geneva; Mr. Raphael Dubert, GRM, Paris; Mr. Carl Stone; Prof. Toru Kamekawa and Ms. Wakana Kuroiwa, Department of Musical Creativity and the Environment, Tokyo University of the Arts; Dr. Koji Nagahata, Faculty of Symbiotic Systems Science, Fukushima University; and Mr. Dominique Balaÿ.
TomokoI Saw Time, under a Cherry Tree Flower petals with a faint tint of redWhisper to me a sweet hint of scentAnd dance through the skyWhile a renewed wind caresses my cheekAnd the sun kisses deeply, into my cells Children are crying with laughter Mothers are chatting awayMen are pruning old branchesBirds fly off from a lakeCats play hide and seek in the grassBugs and flowers sing together All of this is so dearAnd All of this is so beautiful Because TimeExists Because there is an end, it is beautifulBecause there is death, it is beautifulFor this, we are born And for this, we die Although Even at this momentWe are Draining radiation into the seaPolluting the soil, water, and airLaunching missiles at each otherRaping, killing, and abusing life While workers at the nuclear power plant are irradiated to deal with the disasterWe use and waste electricity to read news on the InternetWhile we create lands where nobody can live for generations to comeWe sell nuclear power plants to people in other lands Children’s urine And mothers’ breast milkAre now radioactiveDog, cow, and human corpsesWere abandoned a year agoAs nuclear waste However frightening all this isHowever sad all this is Trees Just Live Abiding With Time