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Fukushima evacuated city tour shows the reality of ordinary life lost due to nuclear disaster

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Tatsuhiro Yamani, right, explains the current situation regarding the town of Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, to participants during a city tour on June 19, 2021 (Mainichi/Yohei Koide)

Futaba, Fukushima – A tour of Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture shows the reality of this area – the only municipality in the prefecture where the evacuation of all residents continues due to the 2011 nuclear disaster following the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.

The tour, offered in Japanese and English, launched on June 19, and participants can tour this northeastern Japanese city, which includes the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, in small groups.

Tatsuhiro Yamani, 35, who founded a tour association after moving from Tokyo to the city, is the organizer behind the project. The tour, which will take place about once a month, focuses on touring the community highlighting dilapidated homes and vacant land. He said emphatically: “I hope the participants realize that ordinary life happened in this city.”

Yamani left a video production company in Tokyo after the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster that followed, and became a member supporting the city’s reconstruction in 2013. He was responsible for newsletters, so he visited and interviewed evacuees at sites across the country about their current situation. Through this quest, he meets his current wife, Mihoko, 38, and his desire to relay the daily lives lost due to the nuclear disaster that befell him, which leads to the creation of the Tourism Association.

Tatsuhiro Yamani, right, explains the current situation regarding the town of Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, to participants during a city tour on June 19, 2021 (Mainichi/Yohei Koide)

On June 19, Yamani presented his wife’s parents’ home to two participants from Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, also located in northeastern Japan. Inside, moss grew on a futon and weeds covered the ground, and he told them, “This is really a place from which the inhabitants were forced to evacuate.” He also said, “In Tokyo, the electricity generated at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was also used.” He showed photos of a local festival and other photos taken before the earthquake and told them how the residents he met were carrying on with their lives.

Since the spring of 2020, people have been allowed to enter part of the city, including the area around the JR Futaba station on the Joban Line, and the evacuees are scheduled to return to the town in the spring of 2022. “I hope the tour creates an opportunity for connections to be made,” Yamani said. New “. Hirohiza Takakura, 59, the high priest of the shrine that was rebuilt after being damaged by the earthquake, sent encouragement and said, “I appreciate that the tour shows the state of the town we live in.”

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The next round is scheduled for July 17 from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The tour begins and ends at JR Futaba Station on the Joban Line. Reservations can be made from the Futaba Prefecture Regional Tourism Research Association website at https://www.fukushimaseaside.jp/news/futabatowntour/ (in Japanese and English). Participation fee is 5,500 yen (about $49) per person, including lunch expenses and bus fare to get around the city.

(Japanese original by Shuji Ozaki, Minamisuma local office)

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