“Wish I Could Take Real Smile Photos”

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Mr. Yasuo Endo, Ishinomaki Kanita Resident’s Association President, Marumichi Photo Studio Proprietor

After the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011, I was asked by people in other prefectures to take a series of photographs of the affected areas and disaster victims. But I could not. Most everyone in those areas had lost family members and properties and was feeling miserable. I remember each person’s mournful look. Many photographers rushed into the area, and among them were those who thoughtlessly tried to get photos of the victims smiling. But, can you imagine the disaster victims being able to show a real smile at that time? Those who did not care about such feelings took pictures anyway. This felt wrong to me.

I lost all the camera equipment in our Ishinomaki photo studio due to tsunami. My wife suggested closing the business, but I like this job very much. The number of customers dropped to one-third; however, I was happy to see their smiling faces when I handed out the photos I took. I am confident that I made the right choice to resume my business. But the victims still face the problems even 6 years after the disaster. The economy there has still not fully recovered. Young people have left for the city, and the older people remain behind. Even daily life remains a struggle.

Thanks to the many supportive efforts from around the world and the nation, smiles are gradually returning to the victims. I greatly appreciate all the support. I remind myself to express my gratitude at every opportunity. Earthquakes continue to disrupt people’s lives, as evidenced by the Kumamoto Earthquake that occurred last year. I would like to stress the above message, along with saying thank you.

Mr. and Mrs. Endo lost both their residence and photo studio in Onagawa-cho, Miyagi prefecture, in The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Mr. Endo is now serving as president of the temporary housing resident’s association of Onagawa-cho and running his photo studio in Ishinomaki city.

Newsletter, March 2017 by JRCS