Maya Moore, an ASIJ alumna and currently an ASIJ parent, presented her new book, The Rose Garden of Fukushima, in ASIJ’s Ricketson Theater on November 20. The book, a true story presented as a photo essay, tells an amazing history of what was once one of the most famous rose gardens in Japan:
Katsuhide “Katz” Okada fell in love with roses at the age of seventeen, then devoted the next fifty years to creating the Futaba Rose Garden that boasted over 750 rose varieties and which welcomed over 50,000 visitors a year.
That is until the explosions at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Plant on March 11, 2011 rendered it off-limits for the rest of his life. Forced to abandon his beloved Garden and his dream, Okada’s heart was inconsolable until one day, he receives a letter from one of the photographers that visited his Garden every year.
The stunning photographs, taken before and after the disaster that depict the dream of one man created over half a century then cruelly taken away, speak for all lives and livelihoods lost in the tragic events of the Great Tohoku Earthquake that devastated so much of northern Japan.
During her speech at ASIJ, Maya explained how she came across Katz’s story and why she felt compelled to share it with a wider audience. A former news anchor and journalist, this is Maya’s first book and a topic she felt strongly about having volunteered for ASIJ’s Virtual English Classroom exchange with elementary schools in Tohoku. As she interviewed those that had visited the Futaba garden and followed Katz’s journey, she found the profound sadness of those effected by the 3/11 disasters, but also a sense of hope as they begin to rediscover sources of joy in their new lives.