There were a number of reasons this book came together. First, I've always loved Japan. I had a close Japanese friend as a teenager, and visits to her house were like visiting another country - one I felt very comfortable in. I've long been a fan of Japanese writing: the sparseness of it, and the way that emotion lives between the lines rather than in the mouths of the protagonists. Writers like Haruki Murukami, Ryu Murukami, Banana Yoshimoto and Hideo Furukawa inspired me with a love of the culture and philosophy. And I loved the darkness of them: they weren't afraid to look human frailty in the eye.
Then, there was my very personal reaction to the terrible events of 2011, which saw the deaths of 16,000 and the displacement of hundreds of thousands more, 60,000 of whom are in temporary accommodation to this day. This is a story that's if anything more underplayed in Japan than the West. The 'temporary' accommodation that has become all too permanent a home for people whose communities have been destroyed forever.
Travelling around Japan to research the book took me to places I wasn't expecting - mentally and physically. It is a testament to the strength, resilience and determination of the Japanese people that they have reconstructed so much, but there is still a lot to do.
Fukushima Dreams is dedicated to those that survived, and those that passed.
Photo credit: Photo: IFRC, https://flic.kr/p/E9K941
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