Meet Naoto Matsumura, The Guardian of Fukushima’s Animals

Meet Naoto Matsumura, The Guardian of Fukushima’s Animals


Every now and then I read a story that I feel must be shared. Here is one such story:

Originally posted on Kindness Blog:

Naoto Matsumura is the only human who now lives in Fukushima’s 12.5-mile radiation exclusion zone in Japan.

Naoto Matsumura, Guardian of Fukushima’s Animals

At first he fled the radation-riddle area, but he returned soon after to feed his animals.

Naoto Matsumura, Guardian of Fukushima’s AnimalsNaoto Matsumura, Guardian of Fukushima’s Animals

Matsumura then realized that there were thousands of other creatures that needed to be fed, as well. The 55-year-old says he knows the radiation levels are dangerous but refuses to worry about it.

Naoto Matsumura, Guardian of Fukushima’s AnimalsNaoto Matsumura, Guardian of Fukushima’s AnimalsNaoto Matsumura, Guardian of Fukushima’s AnimalsNaoto Matsumura, Guardian of Fukushima’s Animals

“They told me that I wouldn’t get sick for 30 years. I’ll most likely be dead by then anyway, so I couldn’t care less,” he said.

When he first returned, he saw that thousands of cows had died after being locked up in barns. He freed the creatures that had been left tied up by their owners and takes care of all of them.

Naoto Matsumura, Guardian of Fukushima’s AnimalsNaoto Matsumura, Guardian of Fukushima’s AnimalsNaoto Matsumura, Guardian of Fukushima’s AnimalsNaoto Matsumura, Guardian of Fukushima’s Animals

Today, most of the creatures rely on him for food, and he works entirely on the support of donations and…

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Challenge and Renewal

Choir_SundayIt has been a good week. On Monday the Rabbi included Native American voices in the annual community Sedar. Today, the pastor at our local UU church mentioned the ongoing crises at Pine Ridge. Jennie and I have been advocating for the inclusion of Native voices at synagogue and church or many years, and it is a joy to have this finally happen; may it continue. Continue reading

A Blessing

SpiritsSometimes blessings come, unannounced and unbidden.

Tuesday was the last day of class for the semester. Around 5:10, as the last student was giving his presentation, I glanced out the window. Just above, and northeast of our classroom, four or five vultures circled. I interrupted the poor student and invited the class to come to the windows. As soon as everyone had seen the vultures and turned away, the vultures departed.

I then explained my sense of excitement, awe, and gratitude.

One of my most beloved teachers, Ipu, Dr. Bernardo Peixoto, died three years ago. Ipu was a condor shaman; when he was here, in Vermont, he was often followed by literally scores of turkey vultures, the “little brothers” of the condor. They would circle above him, spiraling for long periods as we walked or talked. Continue reading

Resilience and Story

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I’ve been noticing how human I am. Even though I am in my late sixties, spring brings out the younger man in me. As the weather warms I become more playful, get out and about more, and begin to notice other people. As a result, I am reminded that I am a primate, biologically hard-wired to be social. Dogs, while not primates, are similarly wired. They can tell when one enjoys their presence, and will often, with the permission of their owners, reach out to make contact. For us humans, to take a dog, or a baby, out for a walk is to invite social interaction with others. Continue reading

Teaching the Medicine Wheel

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We met in my classroom, then, needing a place to construct the wheel that was out of the public eye, walked down the hill to the land that was recently sold for development. The students led us to a small grove of trees, prickly ash and aspen, sheltered from view. Continue reading

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Saturday Jennie and I hosted a workshop focused on using personal stories to nurture and protect beloved spaces. Those gathered shared stories of the places they hold dear, and the fates of those locales. Some of the places remain, others have disappeared under the miner’s or developer’s bulldozer.

Holding places as sacred is a risky business. So often, that copse of woods, lake, or deserted lot we grow to love are taken from us. Yet, given the opportunity, we humans seem hard wired to fall in love with landscapes, corner lots, and ecosystems. We form deep bonds with boiler rooms in a tenements or the Natural world, including parks; sometimes they are our only childhood refuge. Continue reading

Richly Storied Places

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It seems to me that our preference for stories is difficult for folks of European ancestry to grasp. That is true for Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, and folks from the U.S.. Many of us Native people understand ourselves to have been born from place, our tribes emerging from specific places: mountains, springs, caves, inlets. We traditionally understand the Earth to literally be our mother. If one stops to think about this, it makes profound sense: at the very least we are birthed from the stuff of this planet, the building blocks of place; clearly, one should not harm one’s mother, should not act in ways that defile the physical or spiritual environment. Continue reading