Story for the vision of resilience, 2016

contributing text



This is a story for a vision of resilience. This is not real; however, it is based on reality that is happening in parts of the world.


-Beginning of Story-


Mr. Smith is an average guy who works an 8-to-5 job. He is a creative director for virtual reality (VR) immersive environment. He commutes by subway and takes the same route to get to work every day. At 7 p.m., he meets up with his friends and grabs a beer. By 10 p.m., he gets home and watches a TV show. He happens to watch a travel and documentary channel about a small island with sociopolitical issues.


—Mr. Smith turns on TV.

The reporter, Napaj, describes the island from his previous knowledge and reports what he sees to his viewers and adds some of his thoughts.

The small island is a part of an archipelago and is famous for its active volcanoes and the related earthquakes, as well as tsunamis. It is his first visit to the island and he gives such information as context for his viewers. The island has beautiful mountains, forest, and sea and the people harvest fruit and vegetables and also catch fish and animals for everyday life.


Napaj drives a car and crosses a bridge to enter the island. As soon as he enters the island, he comes across a huge slogan saying “Empower and enrich our community by nuclear energy”. In the past, people on this island heavily depended on harvest by nature and developed a belief system worshipping the spirit of nature. He often stops by shrines and temples with beautiful representational ornaments. He continues driving the car and comes across another slogan saying, “Stop nuclear energy”. It seemed that the local residents must have put up such a slogan, but he doesn’t see anyone nearby.

He stops by a local restaurant for his lunch. He orders assorted slices of fresh fish. All the fishes are too rare and too expensive to have in major cities, and he shows off the variety of rare fishes and their freshness to the viewers. Even a local fisherman tells him that it is becoming more and more difficult to catch them, since the forest doesn’t hold raindrops in the soil because of the lumber industry and doesn’t drain good nutrients to the rivers and sea. And the local fishermen lose their jobs and become construction workers to make roads and public buildings by order from the local and the national governments.


After he finishes reporting his lunch, Napaj notices a TV in the restaurant showing footage of a big earthquake and the following tsunami, as well as the explosion of the nuclear plant. He recalls that it has been five years since the incident and nothing has been resolved. He thinks of his son and daughter. What kind of living conditions and natural environment can be passed down to them? He couldn’t think of a concrete solution for them, but was dared to challenge the issues with ideas and actions through his travels and findings.


He continues to drive his car to the west and comes across another slogan saying, “Abolish nuclear weapons! A town for peace”. He has gotten to know that there must have been several groups who have different values and perspectives for survival in the town. He looks for a local resident and finds a young woman with her daughter. Both are looking toward the sea.

The reporter (Napaj) : Hello. How are you? I am Napaj, a TV reporter from overseas. You don’t mind if I asked you a couple of questions?


A local woman: Hello, nice meeting you. Yes. I don’t mind. But I am not sure if I could correctly answer your question. Don’t you mind?


The reporter: Not at all. So, would you tell me a little bit about all those slogans about the nuclear plant and so on?


Local woman: Ah, yes. These were put in at different periods. The first one was put up about 30 years ago. People on this island didn’t have much benefit from economical development back then and also couldn’t continue farming and fishing for their livelihoods since the soil and water were affected by pollution from somewhere.  


The reporter: That’s really sad… So, the first slogan, “Empower and enrich our community by nuclear energy” was put up about 30 years ago.


Local woman: Yes. I was also as young as my daughter here—about five years old—back then. I thought it was natural to believe that it was good thing.


The reporter: Then, how about another one, “Stop nuclear energy”? 


Local woman: Ah, that was put up almost at the same time. I mean, local residents didn’t like the idea of putting dangerous energy nearby. But half the residents thought it was necessary for the people on this island to survive, since the national government and the electricity company agreed to give financial support to the local government… even for research…


The reporter: Research?

Local woman: Yes, money for research before actually beginning the construction. Tons of money was poured into this town… not sure who received the benefit… but this state of equilibrium continued over 30 years, until now.


The reporter: Also, the other slogan? “Abolish nuclear weapons! A town for peace”?


 Local woman: Yeah. It was put up some time in the past. Do you remember? This country is the only country that has suffered from nuclear bombs? But people never thought that nuclear energy was as dangerous as the nuclear bomb… such a pity, don’t you think?


 The reporter: I see. I see the whole story behind them now. I feel very sorry but I am glad that the landscape and the beautiful oceans remain well. Wasn’t it a good thing for you?


Local woman: I think so. I would think so. I just can’t say yes or no… to be honest. Can you see the rock formation at the tip of the pier?

The reporter: Ah, yes, I can see rocks piling up on top of each other and I can also see something man-made on it, but it looks collapsed… What is it?


Local woman: It is a gate made of stone. I am glad that you are from other part of the world. We believe that it is a secret gate to communicate with spirit of nature. You know, I am a bit scared when I see it collapsed… Have you heard of Shinto?


The reporter: I have heard of it but I don’t know what it is. 


Local woman: Don’t worry. It is a bit too complicated to explain anyway. But don’t feel bad about it. Even we don’t know what it is exactly. 


The reporter: O.K. I will study it later. And I really appreciate your time and your kindness.


Local woman: You are very welcome. Thank you very much for coming to this small island. I wish you continue a good travel and experience here. I want you to come back again, though!


The reporter: Yes, definitely. By the way, where else should I visit before going home?


 Local woman: Maybe a hot spring? You know, this island is famous for its hot springs, I mean, famous for its volcanic activity, more precisely. Didn’t you pass by a hot spring public bath just right after crossing the bridge?


 The reporter: A hot spring public bath? Do you recommend it?


Local woman: Yes, of course. It is our culture! It is also brand new. But only concern that you may have is… that this public bath was built by financial support from the national government and the electricity company,, though the hot spring water is great and refreshing. Please try it, if you have some time.


The reporter: Thank you very much for the info. Yeah, it means something… I will keep it in my mind.


—The TV program ends, and Mr. Smith turns off the TV.

Mr. Smith thought the TV program was very intriguing and thought provoking, in a way. He couldn’t easily say that it was good or bad … rather, he thought that people were living under such uncertainty, under a double-edged sword. At the same time, he was fascinated by the beautiful nature in the small island through the broadcasting and kept thinking about how he can adapt such beautiful footage into his VR immersive environment project, so that his customers can enjoy such beautiful scenes at home, even in cities, without visiting actual places…

When the TV program ended, it was almost midnight. He was ready for bed and he left the room. As he is about to leave the room, an emergency alert beeps out of his cell phone. And the display shows: “Emergency alert, Earthquake in Otomamuk.” 30 seconds later, his rooms shook and an electricity bill slipped off from piles of receipts that he collected to pay for his living next month.


-End of the Story-

In this story, there are so many ways to read and interpret, which I intended for my readers to do in order to evoke their own thoughts. I assume that lots of people may get confused about the situation. What I wanted to speak about is perspective shift and interdependency. I am not intending to express opposition to economical and technological development, but rather use of it and the related decision-making it prompts. This relates to ethical and philosophical ideas and values as a backbone for our survival.


Technological advancement has dramatically changed our lives and environment. When I saw an actual case about the repurposing of a research budget from a nuclear plant project to a hot spring facility in an actual town in Japan, I was so impressed and thought it is about resilience of the local citizens. This type of decision was made upon democratic agreements between individuals, corporations, and government. I have never seen such shift of decision. So, what I would like to say my vision of resilience is this type of shift, perspective change.


In Japan, we experience lots of devastating natural disasters and most of the time we can’t change, but must accept, the situation. We learn from our experience, success, and failure. So, the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, tremendously impacted our perspectives towards nuclear energy and nuclear power plants more than the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995, especially because of the nuclear plant explosion and after effects, which are considered to have been triggered by decision-makers’ misleading.

I am wondering how much technological advancement changes our perspective towards mobility and experiences. In the story above, my illustration about a creative director for VR immersive environment was my implication about perspective shift.


Do we still need to travel to a place when we can virtually visit and experience through actual footage? In a way, this might be an effective solution to reduce human impact on nature, environment, and the earth, which I can also think of as a vision for resilience. However, in reality, we are more and more eager to travel and to physically experience such places.


Then, I ask myself about how we can reach ideal lives and maintain sound conditions for us to survive and to be content, as well as being sound for the whole ecosystem … We are all inseparable and interdependent.


P.S. Currently, we are experiencing another big earthquake in Kumamoto, which occurred on April 14, 2016.

In the story, there is a name called “Otomamuk”, which refers to the current earthquake in Kumamoto, Japan.






---スミス氏はテレビをつけます 。





彼は車を運転しこの島へ入るために橋を渡ります。この島に入るとすぐに、彼は大きなスローガンに出くわします 。「原子力による地域活性化」。過去にこの島の人々は大いに自然の恵みを拠り所にし、自然崇拝の信仰形態を発展させました。彼は時折、美しい象徴的な装飾のある神社やお寺を訪ねます。車を運転し続け、もう一つのスローガンに出くわしました。「原子力阻止」。地元の人々がそのようなスローガンを設置したのでしょうが近くには誰も見当たりませんでした。