Broken Things こわれたもの

Broken Things こわれたもの is a labour of love – a small but powerful photography book by photographer Sam Seager. It was launched last night at the ICN Space in Shoreditch and all profits from sales of the book will be donated to charities that are actively supporting local recovery efforts in Tohoku, Japan.

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Broken Things こわれたもの is the latest body of work by London based photographer Sam Seager. The book features images taken around the 1st anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake & Tsunami of March 11th 2011. Shot over two weeks in devastated communities such as Kamaishi, Rikuzentakata and the island of Oshima, it shows people and landscapes in flux, facing ongoing issues from the disaster and an uncertain future.

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The book opens with the image of a clock, stopped at the moment the tsunami struck, it is a solemn reminder of the magnitude of what happened. The photographs then follow the course of the journey, beginning a week before the anniversary in the far north of Tohoku and then slowly moving south along the coastline through Iwate and Miyagi prefectures. It’s a time of year that can feel more like winter and the rugged landscapes, shrouded in cloud and sleet, seemed to reflect emotions heightened by memories of the previous year.

The days that followed took a similar course as over coffee or tea people related their stories of March 11th to Sam. They took him to see places and family or friends that held particular importance for them, from local fishermen working on new facilities to temporary housing shared spaces or the locations of their destroyed homes or businesses. This succession of personal insights traces a visual path through the many thousands of experiences that as a whole make up the complex narrative of the disaster and recovery since.

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The title ‘Broken Things’ is a reference to both physical and emotional damage. They were the words that a retired English teacher used to translate the Japanese phrase ‘gare-ki’ as he pointed to one of the many giant piles of debris that are now typical of the area. It’s usual translation would be ‘rubbish’ or ‘debris’ but his contained the seed of something more poignant. Everywhere you look there are physical traces of the Tsunami, broken and twisted material or their inverse the empty spaces where buildings once stood. And yet there is a more positive interpretation that life must carry on, and what is now broken can and should be fixed.

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This is what Sam Seagar says about Broken Things こわれたもの:

In March of 2012 I visited areas of Japan affected by the Tohoku earthquake and Tsunami of 03/11/2011. Photographs I took on this two week trip along the Tohoku coast are contained within the self-published book, ‘Broken Things’.


Proceeds from the sale of ‘Broken Things’ will be donated to local charities in Tohoku and you can find Paypal purchase links lower down the page.

O.G.A for Aid is based in Minamisanriku where their mission is to establish a long term support system which local residents and victims of the disaster may use to regain their lives and livelihoods. They have also launched a green farming project where unused farmland is being put back into use by unemployed local people.

It’s Not Just Mud is a vibrant volunteer organisation operating from two tsunami damaged houses in Ishinomaki. The constantly revolving mix of foreign and Japanese volunteers are helping in many different ways in the local area, including clearing debris, rebuilding homes and helping to set up activity groups and businesses in temporary housing.


This is a numbered edition of 500 copies only. It is a 21cm x 16.5cm soft-back book offset printed by Optimal Media in Germany on a combination of two papers: LuxoArtsamt 150 gsm for the interior and Conqueror Connoisseur Glatt weiss 300 gsm for the cover.

この本は、500部限定での製作・販売です。ドイツのOptimal Media社による21 x 16.5cm、ソフトカバーのオフセット印刷で、中のページにはLuxoArtsamt 150 gsm、表紙にはConqueror Connoisseur Glatt weiss 300 gsmという、2種類の紙が使われています。

Book design by Stewart Armstrong. レイアウトおよびデザインは、Stewart Armstrong氏によるものです。

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If you wish to purchase your copy of ‘Broken Things’ go to Payment is £17 via Paypal.

Sam Seager’s work has appeared in Dazed & Confused, NME, Nylon, The Sunday Times and The Telegraph. His 2010 ‘Lost Villages’ photographs from rural Japan were exhibited at The Orange Dot Gallery in London.

About Paul Brad

Freelance journalist / Publisher / Editor - Straight No Chaser magazine / Editor - L FM : Broadcasting In A Pandemic - Gilles Peterson (Worldwide FM) / Publisher: From Jazz Funk & Fusion to Acid Jazz: A History Of The UK Jazz Dance Scene by Mark 'Snowboy' Cotgrove / Music Fan: Interplanetary Sounds: Ancient to Future / Cultural Event Consultant & Activist / Nei Jia practitioner
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