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Ari Beser

www.aribeser.com

Ari M. Beser is the grandson of Lt. Jacob Beser, the only U.S. serviceman aboard both bomb-carrying B-29s. He is traveling through Japan with the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship to report on the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the fifth anniversary of the Great East Japan earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima. Using photo essays, videos, and articles, Beser will give voice to people directly affected by nuclear technology today, as well as work with Japanese and Americans to encourage a message of reconciliation and nuclear disarmament. His new book, “The Nuclear Family," focuses on the American and Japanese perspectives of the atomic bombings.

Five Years After the Fukushima Disaster, Residents Adapt to New Normal

Koriyama, Fukushima – On March 11, 2011 the world all but ended for the people who live on the Tohoku coast. The North Eastern Japanese region was rocked by a 9.0 earthquake which generated a tsunami that inundated the entire shoreline, with up to 30 meters of water in some towns . The tsunami waves killed nearly…

How Japan Rings in the New Year

Tokyo—“Tokyo’s going to be dead on New Year’s,” warned my friend Naoki, a  resident of the capital city for the past 30 years and a veteran of its vibrant nightlife. “Everything will be closed, no one will be out, and if your friend is coming to visit you from home, and he’s never been to Japan,…

Pictures: Lessons Learned from Hiroshima and Nagasaki

A new year has begun, and my Fulbright Grant is already halfway complete. I cannot believe how quickly the time has passed. For the last five months, I have been living in Hiroshima and Nagasaki interviewing survivors of the atomic bombs, or Hibakusha as they are called in Japanese. It is the 70th year since the weapons were…

Nagasaki’s Holiday Lights Look Back to the Future

Nagasaki, Japan – The winter season is fast approaching in Japan, and for the country famous for its futuristic appeal, no expense seems to have been spared to illuminate the nation with mind-bending holiday lights. Many the world over know Japan as a country on the forefront of technology. Bullet trains speed through the country at over 200 mph, vending machines…

A New Generation Inherits the Memories of Hiroshima’s Atomic Bomb

“Everyone of my friends think I’m strange,” says Masaaki Murakami, 22. “I laugh at that, but I don’t refute it. I know it’s strange. In Japan, no one is interested in the past. But people don’t understand: the past is connected to the future.” Murakami spends every free day he can as a volunteer guide in…

Autumn Foliage Pays Vivid Homage to the Fallen of Hiroshima

Hiroshima, Japan– The rice has been harvested and hung to dry, and chestnuts have been gathered and baked into cakes and candies. The air is getting cool, but the colors of the trees are getting warm. Fall has arrived in Hiroshima, albeit a little later than usual, perhaps an effect of the warmest October on record, according to NOAA reports.  Japanese autumns…

Nagasaki, The City Beyond the Atomic Bomb

    Nagasaki, Japan— Imagine you are from an ancient city with roots that go back centuries. As a proud citizen, you have a deep knowledge and respect for your local history. You know the ins and outs of your culture; the local dialects that are barely understandable in other parts of your own country, your…

Japanese Town Ventures Into Clean Energy

  Obama Onsen, Japan – On the foothills of the Mt. Unzen Volcano, the Nagasaki Prefectural town of Obama Onsen,  which literally means “Small Beach Hot Springs” in Japanese, is harnessing the power of the earth. In the town famous for its relaxing therapeutic spas and some of the hottest natural springs in Japan, the local people have…

Nagasaki’s Hidden Christians Survive Persecution and the Atomic Bomb

Nagasaki, Japan –A prophecy is alive in the hills of Nagasaki. For centuries Christians stayed hidden under a historical ban on their religion by the Tokugawa Shogunate, a government system that lauded itself for the most peaceful era in Japanese History. Bastian was a priest in Nagasaki whose life is shrouded in mystery. He prophesied just…

Japanese Storyteller Takes a New Approach to Sharing War Stories

Tokyo, Japan – This year marks the 70th anniversary of the conclusion of World War II. To commemorate this event, Fumioki Okayama, a designer from Nagasaki,  founded  “70 Seeds,” a new Japanese blog to spread the stories of Post War Japan. His stories, like seeds, start out small, with topics as general as food, sports, places, romance, or culture, but…

A Week In the Life of a Fulbright Digital Storytelling Fellow

As I spend the next nine months roaming Japan for my Fulbright National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, a lot of my friends and family have wondered what I do on a weekly basis. Every week is different, and this one was no exception. It was actually one of my busiest, so I thought I’d give readers…

Beyond Japan: Descendants of Atomic Bomb Survivors Convene in Hiroshima

 A participant in the Global Hibakusha Project Workshop watches an example of oral history produced by the Project founder about a previous member. Photo By Ari Beser Hiroshima, Japan—“There was a film about Nagasaki called The Last Atomic Bomb, but in actuality over 2,000 nuclear weapons have been detonated since then,” reveals Bo Jacobs, associate professor…

How Paper Cranes Became a Symbol of Healing in Japan

Every day school children visit the monument for the child victims of Hiroshima adorned with a statue of Sadako Sasaki holding up an origami crane. The museum receives millions of paper cranes from around the world. Photograph By Ari Beser.    Hiroshima, JAPAN—Origami, the Japanese art of folding paper, often conjures images of paper cranes, or…

In Nagasaki, New Art Exhibit “Antimonument” Rethinks The Bomb

 Visual artist Shinpei Takeda stands in front of his exhibit titled “Antimonument.” Photographs By Ari Beser. “What is Antimonument supposed to mean?” I asked Ryuta Imafuku, cultural anthropologist at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. “There is no such thing as ‘supposed to,’” replied Imafuku, partner of visual artist Shinpei Takeda, whose new exhibit, “Antimonument,” is…

Pictures: Nagasaki and Hiroshima Survivors Share Their Stories

70 years ago last week, the atomic bombs were dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The hibakusha—the “exposed” in Japanese—have overcome social stigma to speak out and tell their story.   The average age of the atomic bomb survivors is over 80 years old, and while many may still be alive for the 75th and 80th anniversary, there’s a sense of urgency to…