Shin Yahiro Documents the Lives of Young People After the Disaster

In his series created using double exposure, the photographer meets young people who grew up in the affected area in March 2011.


WordsClémence Leleu

Mana Shimizu, 18 years. Kesennuma, Miyagi. 15 February 2019 © Shin Yahiro

In 2019, Shin Yahiro started working on To me who was a child at that time, presenting portraits of young adults who were between primary-school and college age in 2011. The photographs are taken using a particular technique, double exposure, which enables him to compose images with the young protagonists on one side and the ravaged landscapes of the Tohoku region on the other.

Shin Yahiro is a freelance photographer and director who was born in 1979. He specialises in documenting social issues, conflicts, and natural disasters, and left Japan after 11 September 2001 to travel the world and hone his photography, having taught himself. Stopping off in the Middle East and Europe as well as in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Tibet, Shin Yahiro visited multiple destinations before returning to Tokyo. 


An experience to find one’s way

‘These children have to live with the fact that they were affected by the earthquake and tsunami, and that they are seen as victims. In Japan, it’s common for people to talk about where they come from, even when meeting someone for the first time’, Shin Yahiro explains. ‘Every time they have this conversation, they feel anxious about the idea that they are seen as survivors who have been through a painful experience. But they tell me that they wouldn’t be where they are today if they hadn’t experienced the disaster. They use this experience to find their way.’

One of the individuals featured in these puzzle-like photographs is Yuzuki Satou, aged 19, who works at the town hall in Onagawa, where he lived when the tsunami struck the coast, and did not want to leave in spite of the high unemployment rate. Another is Ai Suzuki, aged 21, who left Fukushima Prefecture to study art at the University of Tokyo and who explains his distress as his memory gradually erases his recollections of what his city was like prior to the nuclear disaster. Since 2011, Shin Yahiro has worked on several projects relating to the March 2011 catastrophe, including two other series on this theme, Tsunami 2011 and fukushima


To me who was a child at that time (2019), a series of photographs by Shin Yahiro, can be viewed on his website.

Kazuki Saitou, 17 years. Otsuchi, Iwate. 19 February 2019 © Shin Yahiro

Yuzuki Satou, 19 years. Onagawa, Miyagi. 6 February 2019 © Shin Yahiro

Fumiya Kimura, 21 years. Namie, Fukushima. 7 February 2019 © Shin Yahiro

Yu Sasaki, 20 years. Minamisanriku, Miyagi. 18 February 2019 © Shin Yahiro