All photos © Hiroki Kobayashi
When the tsunami and earthquake struck Japan last March, Japanese photographer Hiroki Kobayashi was living in New York City. During the months that followed, he relied on news and media outlets to stay up to date on his home country. Yet he still found himself confused about what was happening on the ground, so when an assignment came along that would take him to Japan, he hoped traveling to the northeastern coast would help him better understand the situation. What he saw both surprised and inspired him.
In the town of Minami-Sanriku he met a group of fisherman who had banded together in order to help one another survive. They were all still living in temporary shelters. Yet they were sharing the two remaining fishing boats that were still sea-worthy, and dividing their earnings amongst one another. “Even though these fishermen lost their homes and so much of their livelihood, they look to the future with a positive and inspirational resolve,” Kobayashi says, adding that this optimism is often missing in the news reported by the mainstream media.
The resulting work, “Altered Land,” was recently exhibited at FiveMyles gallery in Brooklyn, New York. Kobayashi’s series “Slave Theater,” which documents a Brooklyn building with a storied history, will be exhibited in Japan next month and the BRIC Rotunda Gallery in 2013.