Zeesy Powers

2022, 12:07 minutes, colour, Japanese with English subtitles

TAPECODE 1030.30

Omiwatari is a meditation on the cultural losses of climate change. Shot in rural Japan during the first days of the COVID-19 pandemic, while Australia was on fire, local people witness the first year in memory that Lake Suwa, site of a millennia-old phenomenon, remained ice-free all winter.

The Tenaga Jinja shrine holds the world’s oldest human-observed climate record, a written document detailing the date Lake Suwa freezes and cracks every year for over six centuries. This spectacular crack, like the spine of a dragon, has changed its meaning over the millennia, but its connection to the cycles of nature has remained constant. Since the mid-20
th century, this promise of rebirth has occurred with less and less frequency. New research lead by Canadian and Japanese scientists shows that it is a direct result of anthropogenic climate change.

The post-industrial landscapes of Japan’s rust belt bear witness to the price we pay for progress, and the possibilities we have to repay that debt. Within the next 50 years, the gods of this lake, whose annual reunion across the ice brought good fortune and balance between humans and nature, will never meet again. We are the cause, and it is up to us to find a way forward for ourselves.

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