Arafudo Art Annual is an annually held art festival in Tsuchiyu onsen-machi in Fukushima prefecture, started from 2013.The word “Arafudo” means “taking the first steps on the first snow of the season”, dialect of Tohoku district in Japan.
In 2013, it was held from 6 Sep to 14 Oct and 32 artists exhibited their works in 15 places around Tsuchiyu.This year it will be held from 5 Sep to 13 Oct and 39 artists will join us.The event area becomes bigger this year and it will be held all around the western part of Fukushima city.
To be a contemporary art, to gather scholars with various backgrounds.
Now I talk about the relationships between Tsuchiyu onsen-machi, the site for Arafudo Art Annual and the nuclear power plant.
Tsuchiyu onsen-machi in Fukushima city is 250km away from Tokyo and is 80km away from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.Radiation level is the lowest in Fukushima city, and also lower than cities in other prefectures next to Fukushima.It is notable that Tsuchiyu’s radiation level is low even without nuclear decontamination, while many other cities do.
The possible reasons for this are the landform and the direction of the wind of the city.Tsuchiyu is surrounded by mountains and that makes the city hardly have a wind inside from the ocean where the nuclear plant is located.And also the river which runs through the centre of the city, brings the wind from inland area to the sea.That landform protected by the mountains and winds, makes the radiation level of the town lower than in other nearby areas.
This is a feature of this town and the situation is different in other cities.But the onsen-machi, cities with hot springs, as small as Tsuchiyu, do exist a lot in Fukushima and they also have the same problems with Tsuchiyu.The problem is about the economics.The economics of the small hot spring cities in Tohoku district was becoming worse even before 2011.Tsuchiyu had 16 hot spring hotels, and 5 out of them closed after the earthquake.
It is unusual that 5 hotels close at the same time, even if the economic situation is bad.The buildings were not collapsed by the earthquake. No tsunami came to the city.The radiation level is low, too. But it is a hot spring city in “Fukushima”.The number of people who come to hot spring cities in Fukushima decreased drastically.That made the economic worse and the hot spring hotels closed their business.
The invisible damage hit Tsuchiyu. The fear and the ignorance harmed the city.The artworks of the artists work to the invisible things. It has a conversation with the attitude of the audience.It is a private dialogue but I believe that makes the daily lives and the culture.The drastic change in the attitude of people caused by the earthquake. How do the artists face at this change?
The mission of the artists is not to bring back the guests to the city.To look at the meaning of the word “Fukushima”. Look, look and look at it carefully.I, as the artistic director of Arafudo Art Annual, put the emphasis on it.
The artists create their best artworks. The subjects of them need not be Fukushima.
It is important for them that the guests look, look and look at their artworks carefully.In Arafudo Art Annual, I selected the artists in two points. The first on is the quality of the work as a contemporary art, and the second one is that whether it answers more to the guests when they try to have a dialogue with them.