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.
Tomoko I Saw Time, under a Cherry Tree Flower petals with a faint tint of red Whisper to me a sweet hint of scent And dance through the sky While a renewed wind caresses my cheek And the sun kisses deeply, into my cells Children are crying with laughter Mothers are chatting away Men are pruning old branches Birds fly off from a lake Cats play hide and seek in the grass Bugs and flowers sing together All of this is so dear And All of this is so beautiful Because Time Exists Because there is an end, it is beautiful Because there is death, it is beautiful For this, we are born And for this, we die Although Even at this moment We are Draining radiation into the sea Polluting the soil, water, and air Launching missiles at each other Raping, killing, and abusing life While workers at the nuclear power plant are irradiated to deal with the disaster We use and waste electricity to read news on the Internet While we create lands where nobody can live for generations to come We sell nuclear power plants to people in other lands Children’s urine And mothers’ breast milk Are now radioactive Dog, cow, and human corpses Were abandoned a year ago As nuclear waste However frightening all this is However sad all this is Trees Just Live Abiding With Time