Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
June 22, 2011

Mario Tama: Spicy Tuna, Giant Clam and Radiation Roll

We had something of a double-whammy this week. First came news of a filtration failure at the water-logged and brimming Fukushima, the likely result being another large contamination deposit into the ocean following April’s 11,000 ton release. A few days later, AP offered news, via a long term investigation into NRC records, that radiation leaks, documented at three-quarters of the nuclear plants in America, have been going on for decades.

This photo, taken last April before the media largely lost interest in the Fukushima radiation crisis, shows a sushi chef at Manhattan’s Sushi Yasuda restaurant taking radiation readings. Call the photo a curiosity — the action of an establishment that is either hyper-cautious or else savvy enough to assure the most paranoid patron that sushi served in fine New York establishments (almost 7,000 miles away from the crisis, for goodness sakes) must be safe.

Still, given that the ocean off Japan will soon likely up its glow and that those domestic nuke plants we’ve been assured are bulletproof may not be, this photo by Getty photographer and Friend of The Bag, Mario Tama, takes on a slightly different sense. As we glimpse past the sushi bar and into the kitchen, we might be looking at our future.

— Michael Shaw

PHOTOGRAPH by MARIO TAMA

>> See more takes on the Japan earthquake and nuke disaster at Bag and Bag Tumblr.<<

(caption: APRIL 08: Sushi chef Mitsuru Tamura uses a radiation detector on seafood before it is prepared in Manhattan’s Sushi Yasuda restaurant April 8, 2011 in New York City. The restaurant has begun using the detector as a precautionary measure due to consumer concerns over possible radiation contamination in seafood from the nuclear emergency in Japan. Health officials believe contamination is unlikely to threaten the food supply chain and none has been found in this restaurant.)

About the Photographer

Mario Tama

Mario Tama has covered global events including September 11, the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, the funeral of Pope John Paul II and Hurricane Katrina - before, during and after the storm. His work on Baghdad’s orphans was exhibited at Visa Pour L’Image in France and his photographs from Hurricane Katrina were featured in National Geographic, Newsweek and newspapers worldwide. In 2008 he was nominated for an Emmy for his documentary work on Coney Island and won Cliff Edom's New America Award for his work in New Orleans. He has received numerous other honors from institutions including the White House News Photographers Association, UNICEF Photo of the Year, Pictures of the Year International, Care International Award for Humanitarian Reportage, China International Press Photo Contest, and Days Japan International Photojournalism Awards. He studied photography at Rochester Institute of Technology and freelanced in Washington, DC for the Washington Post and Agence France-Presse before joining Getty Images. Mario is based in New York City. See more of Mario's work for BagNews here.

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