Where Cats Are Left Behind
~ Surviving the evacuated village in Fukushima

Exhibition: Reenactment with Sound

28 Apr. - 19 Jun. 2016
12:00-19:00 (-17:00 on the final day)
admission free
closed on Tuesdays (except for 3 May)
closed on 9, 14, 15 May

Iitate – a beautiful small village in Fukushima with approx. 6,000 residents living peacefully…until that day.  The disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 changed everything.  Located 30 km from the power plant, the entire village was designated a Deliberate Evacuation Area due to the severe radioactive contamination.  The residents were suddenly force to evacuate leaving everything behind…including their beloved pets.  Unfortunately the temporary housing units did not allow them to keep pets, so dogs and cats had to survive the drastically changed environment.  On their own.  No sign of people who used to be their families.  No light at night.  The village was deserted.

Five years have passed.  Although quite a few having been rescued, dogs and cats are still stranded, nowhere to go while lots of lives have been lost.  It is uncanny and bizarre to see giant black lumps – flexible container bags – of radioactive waste everywhere in the village as decontamination has been underway.  Volunteers set up feeding spots in half-collapsed barns or abandoned houses for those cats that wait patiently to be fed.  Some of them stay in and around those spots.  Some of them show up out of nowhere.   Some of them disappear never to be seen again.

Where cats are left behind—
That is what this exhibition is all about.  The sound you hear was recorded at one of those feeding spots over two days.  You hear the sounds of lives that are trying to survive the day.@ Imagine you are there, in the environment surrounding the cats in the village of Iitate.  Feel the lives.  Sense the fear.  This exhibition is to call attention to the plight of the abandoned animals trapped in the aftermath of tragedy.  This is what is happening at this very moment. Where cats are left behind is our problem, not someone else’s. 

The village office plans to lift the evacuation order in 2017.  The preparation for the reconstruction and revitalization of the village has begun leaving the cats with even fewer hideouts that never felt safe in the first place.  Are we going to just let it be?  Or are we going to do something about it?  Hopefully you will leave this exhibition thinking about what you can do.


The exhibition space is intentionally darkened.  Please watch your head and step when you move around.  Please do not touch the exhibit.   Children under 6 years old are not allowed to enter without the supervision of an adult.

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