ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Arts and Design»
  • Photography

Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath by William Eugene Smith - Inspirational Story behind a Photo

Updated on March 31, 2016

Minamata Tragedy and Eugene Smith

He was Tired and exhausted while he waiting the good moment to take a picture. The photojournalist William Eugene Smith (1918 -1978) was made photo-essay of Minamata tragedy in Japan on 1971. One of the photos “Tomoko Uemura in her Bath” was shocking the world when published in for the first time in Life magazine on June 1972. Protest comes from around the world and blaming the Chisso Corporation.

Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath by William Eugene Smith
Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath by William Eugene Smith | Source

Hundreds of people including children and women was contaminating and poisoning by mercury from Chisso Corporation. Waste water with methyl mercury was contaminating the Minamata Bay. Chisso is chemical factory that using mercury catalyst where it wastes of highly toxic chemical methyl mercury was poisoning land and water in Minamata Bay. Fish and seafood catch from ocean nearby was highly contaminated. In other part, animal like chicken, pig, dog, was contaminated too and dead. Consuming food from contaminated fish and meat was impacted horrible and dangerously the Minamata people. Water wastes dangerous impacts then known as Minamata diseases. For human body, it is impacted neurological syndrome for human that causes some symptoms, deformity, paralyses, and to death.

Tomoko Uemura in LIFE Magazine 2nd June 1972
Tomoko Uemura in LIFE Magazine 2nd June 1972 | Source

Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath

Photo of “Tomoko Uemura in her Bath” was shocking human heart. How if it happen to our daughter? Eugene Smith was waiting till noon when a mother takes her little daughter to bathing chamber. The girl is Tomoko Uemura. These photos are one of significant contribution to Minamata people who advocate their life from mercury pollution. After more than 30 years of struggle, in March 2001, Minamata people won.

Polluted water and Hand of Tomoko Uemura in LIFE Magazine 2nd June 1972
Polluted water and Hand of Tomoko Uemura in LIFE Magazine 2nd June 1972 | Source

There are around two thousands victims who most of them had died. Chisso Corporation is obliged to pay compensation and cleaning the pollution. Five years after her photos publication, in the age of 21 years old, Tomoko Uemura closed her eyes and rest in peace in 1977. One year later, Eugene Smith died in 1978 in New York. Smith ex-wife feels that she did not has right to deserve the copyright. She flight to Japan and returns the copyright of Tomoko Uemura photos to her parent.

Master Peaces of Eugene Smith

Most of photographer and journalist agreed that Photo of “Tomoko Uemura in her Bath” is the master peace of Smith works. The story behind the photo session was touching. Uemura parent agreed to take picture whileTomoko taking bath with Ryoko Uemura her mother. The family would like to tell the world how is the sorrow of their daughter and their family grief.

William Eugene Smith
William Eugene Smith | Source

Tomoko mother want the picture in bath chamber when Tomoko enjoy her bath time. Eugene Smith and parent waits till noon. The afternoon sun light is entering the chamber through windows. The light illuminates the face of Tomoko and her mother. Ryoko has little smile while look her daughter face. Tomoko face up to the ceiling as if looking for sky and heaven. Smith aim his camera and taking picture while he also realizes tears falling down from his eyes.

Tomoko's hand, LIFE magazine 1972
Tomoko's hand, LIFE magazine 1972 | Source

Inspirational Story behind a Photo

What is the inspirational story from “Tomoko Uemura in her Bath” for us? Eugene Smith with his camera, passion of photography, has made our eyes opened and more deeply see and feel the human sorrow and grief. The photo taken in 1971 and in March 2001, Minamata people won their case against Chisso Corporation. Why it is take too long about 30 years of struggle?

I remember the old song of Bob Dylan the “Blowing in the Wind”. The lyric song asked us: “How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?” Is it the answer should blowing in the wind? We should take action to protect our environment for the next generation today.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)