The Sacrificial Light – Tears in Wakasa 2: Nucleic and Archaic (From the Chunichi, a local newspaper in Nagoya)

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wakasa 2     The nuclear power plant has brought many people from urban area and given an economic development opportunity, but has taken many precious things away, such as traditions, virtues, and the spontaneity villagers used to have. (“Kokyo (Hometown)” Tsutomu Mizukami)

     “Not only strangers like workers in the nuclear power station but also local residents litter.” Empty cans and plastic packages… Staring at litters in the forest, Kozo Nakatani, 60, looked sad rather than angry.

     Oshima is located in the east of Oshima Peninsula facing Wakasa-wan Bay in Fukui Prefecture. This is the only place where a nuclear power plant is in operation in Japan now. There is a small forest called “Niso-no-mori” about one kilo meters from the power station. The Nakatanis is the guardian of the forest for generations.

     “Niso-no-mori” is an evergreen broadleaf forest, where ancestors who exploited the peninsula have been ensured since ancient times. It is a kind of animism, in which people worship big trees as holy. There are 32 such sacred places in the area, and people hold a festival there in November every year. Each place has a guardian like the Nakatanis.

     The Nakantanis is one of the oldest families in Oshima Peninsula. Nakatani did not like his home very much when he was young. People just went fishing in their leisure time. They had to use a boat to go to downtown. The happiest time for little Nakatani was eating sweet rolled eggs that his mother cooked occasionally. His father headed out to sea by his rickety boat at first light. “I don’t want to be a man like my father!” Nakatani ran away from home and went to Osaka when He was 18 years old. When he was taken to a pub by his co-worker and sipped whisky with water for the first time, he thought it tasted urban.

     He was enjoying city life, but he went back home three years later. It was in 1974, when “Aoto-no-ohashi”, a bridge connecting Oshima Peninsula and downtown, was built in exchange of construction of a nuclear power plant. His hometown was about to change a lot. People did not need to use a boat to go to downtown. Nakatani started working as an operator for heavy equipments to build the power station and his father opened a guest house for construction workers. He received a compensation payment and bought a blazing red car. He believed his hometown’s rosy future when he crossed the bridge by his car at that time.

     It has been 40 years since then. Nakatani’s father passed away some 20 years ago. The guest house is still there because of regular customers who are related to the nuclear power plant. There are few families which left for town in his village. “It’s thanks to the nuclear power station…” Nakatani says. He did not join the anti-nuke movement for resuming operation at the nuclear facility in Ohi Nuclear Power Station after the disaster in Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant two years ago. But he has something “small” on his mind. People in his village used to give each other help, but now they are envying their neighbors’ income. Someone litters in a rice field, and the rice field owner throws the garbage away into other’s land. Nakatani has seen those things a lot since the nuclear power plant was built in his area.

     Actually, He has stopped holding a festival in “Niso-no-mori” since his father passed away. The shrine his grandfather had built was broken and surrounded by a large amount of garbage when he noticed. His mother who had been worried about that suddenly passed away at the end of last year. “Why didn’t I show her the festival?” Nakatani is feeling bad about that. He is going to hold a festival this fall. Nokatani is not only person who has a shaky mind between “nucleic” and “archaic” matters.

(The Chunichi May 28, 2013, translated by Moshimoshimo)

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