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Journey Itself Home

Tokyo & Tohoku, Japan 2020-2021

To mark the ten-year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, two artist families, one American, the other Japanese, embarked on 旅はすみか/ Journey Itself Home, a poetic act of radical caring to rebuild social trust. Marksearch, with multimedia artists Hiroyuki Abe and Natsuka Endo, engaged the public with stories from Fukushima 311 Disaster survivors about adaptation, hope, and the meaning of home.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the artists from traveling to the disaster-impacted region, they connected virtually with small groups of young adults. The artists developed a digital participatory process to record 20-30-year-olds’ current concerns and expressions of peace, calm and strength. Inspired by the journeys of haiku master Bashō, the artists generated a collaborative, sonic haiku based on these poignant stories. 

These sound memorials are modeled after seki-hi, centuries-old markers that stand in silent vigil along the Tohoku Coast warning residents of dangers from previous tsunamis. 旅はすみか/ Journey Itself Home is a series of ‘voice monuments’ [Koe no kinenhi], in the profile of existing Tohoku seki-hi, to share these young adults’ voices in the midst of a global pandemic at ten years after the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake. The Koe no Kinenhi were shared with Tokyo neighbors following a centuries-old Buddhist and Shinto processional pathway.

旅はすみか/ Journey Itself Home is one of the five artistic projects selected for the 2020 U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Fellowship Program, which highlighted the themes of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games: the spirit of unity and collaboration.