Facing death on March 11, 2011, Kakichi Saijo watched as the fast-moving waters of the tsunami approached his home in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture.
As Saijo fled for his life to higher ground, he grabbed his camera, turned and snapped a photograph that shows the enormous force and power of the tsunami generated by the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Now, Saijo's photograph will be on display at Photokina, the world's largest photography trade fair, which gets under way Sept. 18 in Cologne, Germany.
Saijo took the picture at almost the same level as the height of the approaching tsunami. The photo shows not just the tsunami’s devastating force, but also its alarming speed as it inundates homes and sweeps up cars.
The 68-year-old former city official said he took the dramatic shot while fleeing from the tsunami on his way to higher ground.
“If I had been a bit slower getting away, I could have been caught in the tsunami,” said Saijo, whose home was washed away by the churning waters.
Saijo said he was asked by the Japan Professional Photographers Society, which learned about the photo, to make it public, but he initially declined.
“The houses destroyed and vehicles swept away were owned by my neighbors,” Saijo said. “So I felt a sense of reluctance.”
Photographer Hiroshi Suga, an executive of the society, tenaciously kept after Saijo and finally convinced him to make the photo public.
“The picture was taken by a person who was running away from the tsunami," Suga said. "It should be left as a record for future generations.”
The picture, enlarged to 2.7 meters in width, will be shown as a main piece of the Japanese photographers association’s exhibition on recovery from the disaster, under the title “Ikiru” (We survive), at the fair.
“I hope many people will become aware of the horrors of disaster through this picture, and it will help in the formation of disaster prevention measures,” Saijo said.
- « Prev
- Next »