daily life, donate, photos, psychosocial, volunteer

Photohoku Project Provides Smiles And Memories, japan trends, 1/18/12

via japan trends:


Yana Odnopozov

Since the disasters in Japan last year there have been numerous large scale and small scale relief projects trying to rebuild and revive the worst affected regions. We have followed a few of them along the way such as the Design creation project and the Tohoku Cotton project, as well as the Creative commons cardboard shelters project. Whilst most projects have focused on providing relief for tangible things a new incentive aims to address something more abstract, memories. Photohoku aims at helping give back photo’s and memories to those who lost family albums and pictures in the tsunami.

Photohoku Project

Photohoku is private initiative collaboration with support from Fujifilm which began a few months after the disaster in the affected areas of Miyagi prefecture. It is an effort to re-start and rebuild family photo albums for those affected by the events on March 11th with the aim of “Giving photos- and not- Taking photos”. “Many of us know the role and importance of photographs in our lives: they bring us back to old times, lost memories, and forgotten faces,” says Brian a cofounder of the project. “We’d go to Tohoku and find people who lost their photos, and make them new ones with instant film, and help them start new photo albums with the photos we would take. We’d also collect our friends and families’ old cameras and give them to the album recipients so they could continue the albums, basically help them start their photographic lives over. Thus “Photohoku” was born.”

Since the project was initiated, Brian and Yuko have returned every month to the same temporary houses and continued creating new memories. They have brought over a dozen people with them over time, started over 100 photo albums, gifted several dozen cameras and given countless photographs. Companies such as Nakabayashi have also stepped in and sponsored the initiative supplying photo albums that were given away with freshly taken memories, and the group have documented their efforts in a number of videos showing the joy they are trying to bring to those affected.


The most influential part of this project, is giving the people who lost everything a reason to smile, something that they have not been able to do for a long time. This opportunity, small but with a potentially large impact on people’s lives looks to bring a smile that they can look back on in the photographs, and remember how strong they were and still are.

In a ‘digital nation’ like Japan, where taking pictures became as routine as daily greetings we tend to forget how many memories we store up on our hard drives and mobile phones. Unfortunately it is often not until it is gone that we realize the importance of things to our lives. It is easier now than ever to capture moments and take it for granted that we can look back over our lives at any time.


Photohoku are still asking for old cameras to be donated and any other ways you can help. Please check out their website for further information.


About liz

from the u.s., recently moved from kobe to sendai, japan, researching community-based housing recovery after disaster.


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