I Saw Time, under a Cherry Tree, Tomoko Momiyama

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.
Thank you!

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
All of this is so beautiful


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

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




Fukushima Open Sounds

Un projet artistique mené au Japon et à Fukushima par Dominique Balaÿ. A collaborative sound project reaches out to the people of Fukushima, through music, poetry and sound. contact@websynradio.fr

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