Archive for August, 2011

From Above at Kinokuniya Book Store

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

..August 2011.. ..New York..

FROM ABOVE, my photo book, featuring survivors of the atomic bombs; the Tokyo and Dresden fire bombings and the Bikini Incident, at Kinokuniya book store in New York. It is also available on-line through this link.


Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Chasing the Dragon

Thursday, August 25th, 2011


Wednesday, August 24th, 2011


Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Ville Valo of HIM

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

Chasing the Dragon

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Berlin Wall

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

..August 2011.. ..Berlin..

Staring at the East side of the Berlin Wall with Western eyes.

The more I learn about East and West Germany the more confused I become. It is a riddle that when I begin to figure it out, I realize I know less now knowing more than I knew knowing less.

This is a link to the Wende Museum’s interview with Hagen Koch. He was the young man responsible for drawing the map and creating the original boundaries to what became the Berlin Wall. His life is fascinating and ever linked to the Wall. I’ve always wanted to photograph him. When I pursued contacting him, I learned he was in fragile health after suffering a stroke. The opportunity to photograph him lost. This is his interview with the Wende Museum.

My attempts to document the lives of people affected by the Berlin Wall has not made significant progress yet due to the time I’ve given to the From Above project (focusing of atomic bomb survivors and fire bombing survivors) and lack of resources. I hope to one day be able to document the stories of people affected by the wall, both from the East and West, before the stories are swept away by time and a desire to push aside history that we want others to forget.

East Side Gallery, Berlin. Murals are now painted on the East side of the Berlin Wall, where not long ago you couldn’t even get close enough to touch the wall without fatal consequences. This part of the wall is along the banks of the Spree.

Yoshiro Yamawaki

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

An Asahi article about the From Above photography exhibition in Hiroshima.



Yoshiro Yamawaki-san
74 years old

11:02AM August 9, 1945
Yamawaki-san’s story is about recovering his father’s body. He was 11 years old. Lived 2.2km from the epicenter. He and his brother where at home eating lunch at the time of the blast.

The atomic bomb blast tore apart the home. He remembers hearing the plane above. The surge of the blast. They could see the sky through the damaged ceiling beams. Nagasaki on fire and destroyed.

They waiting all night for their father to return from the Mitsubishi Steelworks factory located near the epicenter, 500 meters. He never returned. They assumed he would return home.

The next morning, August 10th, 1945, he and his brother decide to walk to the factory. The factory was located on the Urakami River. Very close to the building I was now sitting in 64 years later. I could see the former location over Yamawaki-san’s shoulder through the large window at the end of the room.

As they walked closer to the factory the devastation grew worse. They had to step easily to avoid breaking the heaps of bodies lying on what used to be streets along the river. Swollen dead bodies and scorched debris.
“…Those who died were swollen like black rubber dolls and their skin peeled off when touch even slightly.” -Mr. Yamawaki

They froze at the site of the Mitsubishi Steelworks factory. Almost nothing was left. At the factory, they found a worker who knew where their father’s body was. The 2 young boys collected wood to cremate their father’s body. They set the fire.
“…My brother and I collected pieces of wood, which we used to cremate our father’s body. When we saw the flames licking up his feet, we couldn’t stop the tears from flowing…..” -Mr. Yamawaki

They returned the next day to find the body wasn’t fully cremated. Only his hands and feet were burnt to the bones. Saddened they have not told their now 92 year old mother the story. They never will.

Mr. Yamawaki was the only Survivor to tell his story in English. I was surprised, when asked why he learned English in his late 60’s. He had retired and found it necessary to continue learning. It’s another display of the spirit of the Hibakusha I met in Nagasaki. Their will to want to live and go beyond.




Map of Yamawaki-san’s journey to recover his father’s body the day after atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.

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Yamawaki-san was the 3rd portrait taken on my first day of photographing in Nagasaki. I photographed him at the atomic bomb epicenter close to the other locations I photographed the entire project. All of the portrait locations were taken within 300 feet of each other.

Yamawaki-san’s portrait was one of the more challenging portraits. He had a very serious demeanor. It wasn’t until seeing the print at the exhibition in Gallery EF did I see the softness in his eyes.

In the gallery, the serious tone on his face felt lighter and more reflective. A lot less tension in his face than in my original thoughts. His shoulders on the print were relaxed and softer around the edges.

What also felt different about his portrait and conversation was he was the only Hibakusha who spoke English. It brought a different dynamic to our friendship. Not that I felt more comfortable with him because we spoke the same language. I was very comfortable communicating in Japanese through a translator with everyone I met.

Sumiteru Taniguchi

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

..September 2008 Nagasaki..

Sumiteru Taniguchi

..Taniguchi-san was the most distinguished and sophisticated man I photographed in Nagasaki. He was impeccably dressed in a suit. His demeanor and posture very honorable. His intelligent aura immediately filled the large board room we sat in.

Taniguchi-san’s story of survival was remarkable. His dedication to the Hibakusha cause and activism against nuclear weapons is impressive. He told his story about overcoming the devastation but the bulk of our conversation was about his concerns about the bleak state of the world. The nuclear ambitions of countries like North Korea, India, Pakistan, Israel, Iran….We spoke about the recent nuclear detonations in India and Pakistan.

Taniguchi-san had the poise of a statesman. His knowledge of world affairs was extensive. In Japan, Taniguchi-san was a major figure in the Hibakusha getting rights and compensation from the government. It took many years for the government to recognize Hibakusha.

The government’s lack of recognition for many years surprised me the most. The stories of discrimination were shocking. Taniguchi-san was the most outspoken of the Hibakusha I met. He told me several times he was disappointed with the government’s unwilingness to offer more assistance to the Hibakusha.

He was also vocal about his feelings toward other Hibakusha who failed to have their voices heard. He could not understand the Hibakusha who believed the government was doing enough for the Hibakusha.

I have a great deal of respect for Taniguchi-san’s opinion and courage to be vocal. If it weren’t for his efforts the government would be waiting all the Hibakusha to pass away without memory. His desire and strength to live are what made my experience unforgettable.

..From the beginning of the photo session, I knew the image of Taniguchi-san would be the cover image for the project. He was poised and distinguished in front of the camera. You can see the his inner strength when you look at the eyes in his photos. Despite his fragile body, he was the strongest man ever to be in front of my camera.


..Taniguichi-san is known as the Postman of Nagasaki. He was delivering the mail on the morning of August 9th, 1945. He started his route at 9AM. Air raid sirens went off a couple of times but no raids occurred.

At 10AM his bicycle tire punctured. He continued the route on foot. After finishing the route, he returned to the bicycle to fix the tire.

11AM he left Nishiura-Kami post office to deliver more mail. He heard planes in the distance. Moments later he was thrown off his bicycle while the ground shook.
“….when I looked up, the house I just passed was destroyed…I saw a child blown away…When I looked up, some small children who had been playing nearby had
been blown away like dust…”

His bicycle was twisted, mail scattered on the ground. His first reaction was to pick up the letters. When he told this to me. It stuck in my memory. When I was interviewed on NHK World, told Taniguchi-san’s story, this was the first memory I had of him. I found it amazing his first reaction was to pick up the letters.

He finds shelter 200yards away in tunnel used to house munitions. He notices that the skin on his entire left arm is dripping off like a flimsy rag. The shirt on his back is literally burnt off.

In the tunnel, some people cut the hanging skin off his arm. Also cut what was left of his shirt and rubbed machine oil on his arm to stop the burning.

10 minutes after the atomic bomb….he tried to stand-up. He couldn’t move. They had to move to safer location because of the munitions….didn’t have the strength to move.
“..I tried to stand, but could not stand any more. I could not walk..”

A man than carries Taniguichi-san to a hill. People pass asking for water. They died quickly. At 2PM…People walking along the railroad tracks. Bodies piled as they fell over and died.

..Night of August 9th, 1945..
All of Nagasaki burnt during the night. Flames made the Nagasaki night as bright as sunlight. House, factories, and the mountains in smoldered feverishly. People passed searching for family.

He sees a low flying airplane. A sharp sound made by a stray bullet fired out of the plane. It hit the rock next to him. In my other interviews, there were mentions of low flying planes. But they were described as observation planes. It was common for planes to shoot survivors after air raids. This was the first I heard of a low flying plane shooting after the atomic bomb was detonated.

Around dawn it started to rain. He swallowed rain water accumulating on the tree leaves. At sunrise everyone lying around him had died. A rescue team arrived…..he tried to ask for help but they thought he was dead. Didn’t have the strength to move or talk.

He was rescued 3 days later and taken to the Shinko Elementary School.
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Taniguchi-san remained bed ridden, lying on his stomach for 21 consecutive months.

“….People at the hospital cheered when I was able to stand….” Taniguchi-san

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“….In my thoughts, I thought about all the people who died. I was still in pain, but still alive….” Taniguchi-san

“….The war ended 64 years ago, but not for us. The victims have been suffering ever since and we don’t know it’s going to effect future generations….” Taniguchi-san

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“..There was a woman who could not hear. Her face swollen, she could not open her eyes. Injured from head to toe. Groaning in pain. I still remember her, like I saw it yesterday. I could not do anything. I deeply regret that, even today..” Taniguchi-san