Joshua Bengtson

Born in Tokyo. Grew up in Akita Prefecture in Northern Japan. Attended public Japanese school for 9 years. High school education in English at Tohoku International School. Currently enrolled in the art department at Tohoku Seikatsu Bunka University located in Sendai, Japan. Since the 3.11 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in Japan, I have been volunteering and photographing mainly in the hard hit city of Ishinomaki. I am completely bilingual, and I'm also a diehard skier.

Waiting for Blooms

These photos were taken at Hiyoriyama Park in Ishinomaki City.

Hiyoriyama is a large hill near the coast from where you can clearly view the damage and destruction of the Minamihama and Kadowaki districts. The hill got its name because it was used as a vantage point by fishermen to check the weather before voyages. Many people evacuated to this location on the fateful day in March, witnessing the tsunami washing their city away.

Historically, Hiyoriyama has been famous for its many cherry blossoms and its Shinto shrine which was first built on the hill in the 12th century.

The many bridges that can be viewed from Hiyoriyama are a big part of Ishinomaki’s identity. The original bridges were built with personal funding from a local entrepreneur and other citizens. These bridges have contributed to the city’s growth and transportation for more than a century. Currently (as you can see in the one photo), there is a mountain of cars that went through sea water being stacked on one side of the bridge, and a mountain of rubble close to 100 feet high being stacked on the other.

The boy’s grandparents’ house and family business used to be located in the vacant lot shown in the first photo. Both were completely swept away by the tsunami.

 

 

 

 

 

Occasionally, we enjoy having contributors curate an entire of issue of the magazine. Makoto Fujimura, founder of the International Arts Movement (publisher), commissioned three colleagues to collaborate on this special final March issue.  As you’ll gather, the emphasis is on Japan.