Catastrophe – never again

Today, we got an amazing and impressive tour around the nuclear station and the contaminated zone. It is absolutely recommendable!

But first of all let me introduce myself. My name is Max and I am a 24 years old German student, who came for a three weeks trip to Japan to visit the whole country.

Especially in Germany nuclear power is a very controversial topic because of their risks and after the catastrophe in Fukushima in 2011 the German government decided to stop nuclear power in the whole country up to 2020. By the media in Germany I got to know that there was a huge catastrophe in Fukushima. An earthquake made a tsunami and the tsunami hit the nuclear station. I assume all Germans know Fukushima but they only know the nuclear station and the catastrophe. Only a few know that Fukushima is a whole prefecture and also a very nice and big city.
To get an impression of the risks and dangers of nuclear power I really wanted to get to know more about the catastrophe in Fukushima. So I decided to google if there is any possibility to make a trip to the contaminated area. One of the first websites was the website of the Real Fukushima Team ( I knew it was a last minute idea but I hoped there was a possibility to get a guided tour. I wrote them a mail and I got a really fast reply with a positive answer. They described us the way to Fukushima and the appointment very detailed and they offered to find an accommodation for us.

We got an appointment in Namie on the 26th March 2018 at 1 pm. It was really nice weather, a sunny day no clouds and a nice wind. After we arrived in the little town Namie we met Karin our awesome tour guide. We met her on a little food corner and there was a very cute lady, her name is Rieko, she is the owner of one of the restaurants at Namie MachiNami Marche. She came to us tried to talk to us and as she recognized that we didn’t understand any Japanese Karin was so kind to translate what she said. She said that she lived here in Namie before the catastrophe. This city was also evacuated but now it is allowed to come back. She also added that after seven years the people don’t want to come back because they got new jobs, even new life’s in other areas. Even if the people lost everything they don’t want to come back. Furthermore there is only a little industry of the most companies left and also it will not come back soon. That is what makes it hard to cultivate the city again. The lady was so kind and very hearty. She also gave us some nice cold drinks.

After the drink and an introduction of each of us Karin explained us what she is going to show us on the tour and she asked what else did we want to see. Moreover she explained us the radioactivity and gave us radiation-measuring devices, which runs through the whole trip to make sure that we don’t get a dangerous dose of radiation. After that, we went to her car and we started our tour.

First we made a little trip across Namie. We saw lonely streets and left houses, in few of them are still growing plants. We also saw houses destroyed by the earthquake. After that we went to the coast to see what the tsunami affect to the coastal regions. We visited a left elementary school. It was such a sad place. Normally it should be a place of joy and knowledge but it was just sad to see what the power of water can do.

After that we went to an office where volunteers archive the stuff people left in their houses and things that got lost by the tsunami. And if they find out the right owner of a thing they try to tell them and offer them to get their things back. This office is such an impressive place especially the plush toys and photos show how families lost everything, but their life and in another way some of them lost their life’s too.

After visiting the office we drove into the still evacuated zone. On the street we got controlled by the police and after that we were allowed to enter the area. Karin drove us to a left supermarket, everything was messed up and destroyed. On the ground laid a newspaper with the date of 11th March 2011.

Later on we drove to Okuma. We saw some construction workers who were fixing the railways of the JR Ono station. Seven years without any people left marks on a city. The houses are running wild and the plants are growing. It was a really impressive scenery. If you can see the sad left city and after years of radiation there is still life. It was not like a dessert it was full of green plants and blooming flowers. In Germany there is a phrase that came to my mind, which fully fits to the scenery. Translated to English it means like “The nature takes back everything”. And even there are cars which can not be moved again because trees grow around them.

After that we drove to a hill with a left retirement building. The people could fortunately be evacuated but they left most of their stuff. It was again such an impressive place to be, where such a sad catastrophe took place. On the top of the hill we had a really nice view to the close nuclear station, the origin of the catastrophe. Karin told us that the nuclear station was used to produce electricity for Tokyo that’s what makes me even sadder and worry if I think about it. The people in Tokyo used the electricity and did not feel responsible for it, but the risk was given to the people in Fukushima.

During our tour we saw a lot of buckets with soil. The government is digging the contaminated soil but there is still no good place to put it. We saw that the government tries to revitalize the area.

After our tour Karin dropped us off at the bus station where we entered the bus to get back to Fukushima city.

I think Fukushima is a really nice area and because of the sad catastrophe Fukushima got the task to tell anyone what happened to prevent that such a catastrophe happens again, anywhere!

Finally I want to say thank you again to Karin our amazing tour guide for this unforgettable experience.
I can only recommend making a tour in Fukushima to get to know more about the catastrophe.

– Hasan and Max