The Camera Guy

By Lorisa Salvatin

Chikara Ara with a peace sign

Chikara Ara poses for a photo at the Sasaya Higashi Temporary Housing District on August 17, 2014.

The first first thing I noticed about Chikara Ara was his camera.

“Is it digital or film?” I asked him

“Film,” he replied in Japanese. “I don’t like digital.”

At 75, he’s carried his camera around with him everywhere; since junior high he says. He said he was lucky enough to have it in his bag when the tsunami hit in 2011. But almost everything else he had lost.

Before the disaster hit Namie, Chikara owned a hardware supply store and lived about less than a mile from the coast. Yet, within being in such close proximity, the large waves had washed away his house and both his cars.

And even more devastating, he had also lost all of his family to the waves as well.

“My granddaughter was going to be 16,” he said, his voice softening as he lowered his head, “She was so smart. She could have went to a university.”

Chikara now lives a simple life. He lives in an apartment and often visits his cousin in Sasaya temporary housing to help her with hospital visits and errands.

“I want to go back to Namie,” he says, but he finds that may be impossible to do so because homes no longer exist and it’s within close range to the power plant. He says he’s unsure of his hopes for the future and what it holds.

He just got to keep telling jokes he says with a laugh. It helps with getting through the pain. Then with camera in hand he says his goodbye and goes about the room to take more pictures of the days events.

Chikara Ara takes photos of everything, capturing the his day to day life. Though it’s too hard to think about the past and he feels that it’s too soon to think about the future, Ara just takes life one day at time. With the click of the shutter, he captures each moment in a picture.