5) Culture of the Fukushima Disasters--presentation by Dr. Doug Slaymaker
From Michael Foster
The Culture of the Fukushima Disasters: Japanese Film, Literature, Manga, and Photography after 3.11
These presentations and roundtable discussion explore cultural texts that have emerged in the wake of the triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear catastrophe that hit northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011.
“Kobayashi Erika and Radioactive Afterlives”
Doug Slaymaker, Professor of Japanese, University of Kentucky
“For as a long as I can remember I have been interested in things invisible to the human eye (mienaimono),” says Kobayashi Erika. The mienaimono I will examine are ghosts and radiation, increasingly important themes across the fiction produced in the wake of the 2011 triple disasters. I will focus on her 2019 novel Trinity, Trinity, Trinity. As just one example of this, the house in which the action takes place was built in 1964, and on the opening day of the Olympics the family matriarch took a fall that influenced the flow of the family, right into the present with the opening of the 2020 Olympics on the immediate horizon. This novel too is one about radiation and its role in Japanese society, that, even though it does not connect directly to the Fukushima Daiichi disasters, it evidences one way those disasters remain in the creative landscape. We also find that this sort of history, although not visible (i.e. mienaimono), nonetheless remains visible in a multitude of ways in every day of everyone’s lives.
Doug Slaymaker is professor of Japanese at the University of Kentucky, USA. His research focuses on literature and art of the twentieth century, with particular interest in the literature of post-3.11 Japan, and of animals and the environment. Other research projects examine Japanese writers and artists traveling to France. He is the translator of Kimura Yūsuke’s Sacred Cesium Ground and Isa’s Deluge and Furukawa Hideo’s Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure (Columbia University Press). His translation of Kimura Saeko’s Theorizing Post-Disaster Literature in Japan: Revisiting the Literary and Cultural Landscape after the Triple Disasters has just been released (Lexington Books).