Nine years after the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami devastated East Japan in March 2011, the lives of 2532 people are still unaccounted for, their fates unknown. “One Last Hug” by photojournalist Yuki Iwanami follows three fathers whose children were swept away during the tsunami, never to be found again.
Opening with almost clinical-seeming images of children’s clothes crumpled dirty with mud, Iwanami’s book tells a heartbreaking story about loss and grieve and acceptance, weaving together photographs from large-scale search efforts and personal mementos (photographs, old toys and clothes, drawings).
“The photographs confront us with challenging questions— If these men know that their children cannot possibly be alive after all this time, then what is the nature of the “existence” of those they seek? And what does it mean, truly, for any of us to be alive?” (from the publisher’s description)
In addition to the photographs, “One Last Hug” includes written accounts of each lost child in Japanese and English translation.