For his photobook “Yato no Januke”, the Japanese photographer Hiroshi Takai has focused on his home village of Ichijima in Tamba in the Prefecture of Hyogo. As a farmer who has been living and working in the village since 2006, Takai has an intricate bond with the region, its nature and its dangers. In August 2014, an exceptionally strong rainfall caused a landslide in the area that devastated buildings and swept away fields.
Takai’s black-and-white photographs document the lasting impact of this natural disaster, but also capture the beauty of the landscape (the combination of different trees and flowers, patterns forming in fields when the wind blows over them) and details from Ichijima’s decelerated, agricultural way of life.
“The title ‘Yato no Januke’ is a coined word combining ‘januke’ and ‘yato.’ ‘Yato’ is a valley-like terrain formed by the erosion of hills that is suitable for farming. The term also refers to the agriculture conducted there. The word ‘januke’ is written as "snake-slip" in Japanese kanji, which refers to a mudslide or a landslide.
Natural disasters are inevitable as long as we live in Japan, and time after time, our predecessors have risen from such disasters to resume their way of living. In praise of humanity, I photographed the journey our community has gone through from disaster recovery to reconstruction. The devastated landscapes created by nature also have a strong resilience - I can feel their vitality to return to their original state as quickly as possible.”
― from Hiroshi Takai’s afterword (included in Japanese & English)