I Saw Time, under a Cherry Tree, une pièce electro acoustique deTomoko Momiyama

I went to ask the trees in Paris what they thought about the situation in Fukushima. It was in the summer of 2012, over a year after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. “I Saw Time, under a Cherry Tree” uses voices of these Parisian trees, as well as sound recordings from Fukushima, Tokyo, Aix-en-Provence, Geneva, and Paris. In Fukushima, I visited Bakkamiki in Minami-Soma, which is believed to be the birthplace of an old and mysterious children’s song called “Kanchororin.” Deep in a foggy mountain by a steep river, the forest of Bakkamiki is now too highly radiated for people to enter. Even in the rest of Minami-soma, and in many other parts of Fukushima, children cannot play outdoors for too long now due to high radiation. “I Saw Time, under a Cherry Tree” quotes this folksong, as well as a poem of the same title I wrote in Japanese. An English translation of the poem is written out at the end of this note.

La forêt de Bakkamiki, photo de T.Momiyama

The composition was realized with help from many great people. I would like to thank especially the following:

Mr. Tomio Matsumoto and Mr. Masahiko Sui from Minami-Soma, Fukushima; Mr. Eiichi Sugimoto from Soma, Fukushima; Mr. Rainer Boesch, Studio Espaces (CSMI), Geneva; Mr. Gianluca Ruggeri, Mr. Eloi Calame, Mr. Enrico Chizzolini, and Mr. Valentin Peiry from Geneva; Prof. Arturo Coralles, Conservatoire populaire de musique, danse et theater, Geneva; Ms. Anna Barseghian and Dr. Stefan Kristensen, Utopiana, Geneva; Mr. Raphael Dubert, GRM, Paris; Mr. Carl Stone; Prof. Toru Kamekawa and Ms. Wakana Kuroiwa, Department of Musical Creativity and the Environment, Tokyo University of the Arts; Dr. Koji Nagahata, Faculty of Symbiotic Systems Science, Fukushima University; and Mr. Dominique Balaÿ.

Thank you!


I Saw Time, under a Cherry Tree


Flower petals with a faint tint of red

Whisper to me a sweet hint of scent

And dance through the sky

While a renewed wind caresses my cheek

And the sun kisses deeply, into my cells


Children are crying with laughter

Mothers are chatting away

Men are pruning old branches

Birds fly off from a lake

Cats play hide and seek in the grass

Bugs and flowers sing together


All of this is so dear


All of this is so beautiful






Because there is an end, it is beautiful

Because there is death, it is beautiful

For this, we are born

And for this, we die



Even at this moment

We are


Draining radiation into the sea

Polluting the soil, water, and air

Launching missiles at each other

Raping, killing, and abusing life


While workers at the nuclear power plant are irradiated to deal with the disaster

We use and waste electricity to read news on the Internet

While we create lands where nobody can live for generations to come

We sell nuclear power plants to people in other lands


Children’s urine

And mothers’ breast milk

Are now radioactive

Dog, cow, and human corpses

Were abandoned a year ago

As nuclear waste


However frightening all this is

However sad all this is











Published by
Dominique Balaÿ

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