In March of 2011, part of the Japanese northeast coast was devastated by a strong earthquake, followed by a violent tsunami. Sixteen thousand people are estimated to have been killed and 2,5 thousand were missing. Among the victims are the 400 people who reside in a small town called Otsuchi. Now in ruins and in the middle of restoration constructions, its locals still live in grief for the loss of their loved ones. As a response, a local named Itaru Sasaki has been offering a poetic healing aid for his fellow citizens. Sasaki has installed a #Phone Booth in his garden, inviting the neighbors to use the phone – which is disconnected – to talk to those who have passed away.

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"We all have a past. You have a present and a future. Sometimes we meet new people, sometimes we are separated from the ones we know." Says Yuko Sasaki, Itaru's wife, to a group of visitors gathered at the Bellgardia garden. "The Wind Phone is a phone that allows us to communicate with these people. What about you? How do you communicate? Through words, through a letter, through your eyes? The Wind Phone works through the mind." She explains.

"Close your eyes, in silence. Listen carefully. If you hear the sound of the wind, the sound of the waves or a small bird tweeting, open your heart. Your feeling will reach that person."

On the top of Mount Kujira, from where you can see the Pacific Ocean, there is a beautiful garden. And amidst the flowers and the grass is the white phone booth.

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Every day, no matter the weather, and despite the construction work noise, people come to use Sasaki's phone booth.

“Hello, Dad. It’s your son” says Yoshihisa Masuko, a visitor.

“It must have been really hard for you to live in a concentration camp in Siberia. I received information about your death from the government recently. I have been suffering because of this for 70 years now. My mother has also died. But since then we have been well, me and my brothers. I will visit my mother’s grave and I will give her the news about you.” he continues.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you, my younger brother has died. 31 of August. But my older brother and I are okay. Take care. I am speaking from the Wind Phone. I will call again. Goodbye.”

Art Installation

Itaru Sasaki is 71 years old. When he was younger he used to work as a metallurgical, but nowadays, he designs gardens.

“I started planning the phone booth in 2009” He explains. “Back then, my cousin had been diagnosed with cancer and the doctors had given him three months to live.” Years later, on March 11th, 2011 – the day of the earthquake – Sasaki was in his garden, planting roses for the beginning of spring.

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“My family was inside the house. The earthquake was so strong I was afraid the building was gonna collapse. I was gonna call them but they came out on their own. We stood in front of the house, scared.”

Sasaki’s house is 180 feet above sea level. The #tsunami reached 65 feet, so him and his family were not directly affected.

“I brought the phone booth to my garden as an art project. But later came my cousin’s disease and the 2011 disaster.”

“Over 18 thousand people were killed. All those people – the father that went to work, the children that went to school, the mothers who finished their home chores and were out grocery shopping – all of them were doing what they were supposed to do. But when the night came, they couldn’t find their families again. And maybe the grieving families had some last things to say to their loved ones.” Says Sasaki.

“So, I thought necessary to connect the feeling of those who have passed to those of the survivors.” #Japan