Visiting Namie 1.5 years after the lifting of evacuation order, October 7-8, 2018. (避難解除1年半後の 浪江町 に復興の兆しを見る 2018年10月7-8日)

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I visited Namie Town on a special 2-day tour organized by Environment Restoration Plaza (Fukushima City). About 20 people from inside and outside of Fukushima Prefecture participated in the tour with almost the same number of staff members attended. Namie Town had been evacuated for the whole population and area immediately after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident in March 11th, 2011. The central part of the town was lifted an evacuation order by the end of March, 2017 and started its restoration efforts. I visited the town at the time and enjoyed beautiful cherry blossoms street along the Ukedo River, but the town center was in the very beginning of reconstruction. On this tour I visited many places, had chances to hear from many local people and totally had a strong sense of momentum toward the revitalization. Photo above was one of the places: Ukedo Fishing Port. The port had already been recovered from devastation by tsunami, but the number of fishing boat is still 27 compared to 94 before the disaster. This was the second largest fishing port in Fukushima following the largest Haragama Port in Soma.

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On a hill called Ohirayama near the Ukedo Port, there was a large memorial for all the 182 victims in Namie Town by the March 11th disaster as shown above. It became famous that all the children and teachers of Ukedo Elementary School evacuated on this hill safely at the time of tsunami. We could see from here the remains of the school, the Pacific Ocean and even Fukushima Daiichi stacks 5km away.

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We stayed overnight at the town operated public inn called Ikoinomura-Namie as shown above. The facility was renovated and reopened in June 2018, and was one of the recovery symbols. It was very comfortable. It was not ready to provide meals yet. There were nice hiking trails in the back yard but the area was still under preparation and closed.

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There was a nice commercial and eatery area called Machi-Nami-Marche just adjacent to the town hall as shown above.

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We had a nice and healthy breakfast at Kitchen Grandma as shown above, which was located within Machi-Nami-Marche.

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About 3-minute walk from the town hall, there was a guest house called Aotaso, which has several rooms for accommodation. A young manager Izumi-san in his twenties operates this facility with many supports from local people. Many volunteers and students from outside Fukushima have been using this house.

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At OCAFE shown above, which was a small café located at Kariyado district surrounded by fields, we could see and hear special picture stories.

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Mrs. Oka performed and told us a picture story about firefighters at the time of the March 11th disaster as shown in the picture and very short piece of video above. It was a very regrettable story triggered by nuclear plant accident.

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At Ishii farm operated by another active woman Mrs. Ishii in the town, we had a harvest experience of fine egoma or perilla beans just in season. Egoma plant looked today as shown above. We harvested large amount of egoma beans equivalent of several bottles of very expensive egoma oil today.

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On the way to Namie in the first day, we stopped at Stable Michikusa in Minamisoma as shown above. Since the nuclear plant accident many horses had been taken to this shelter and taken care of by a volunteer.

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A memorial for cattle victims by the nuclear plant accident stood at the back of the site as shown above.

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Another stop was Soma Ranch which was a large cattle farm of 180 calves before the accident. Today the owner restarted the ranch producing grass and raising sheep as shown above.

This bus tour started from JR Fukushima Station and moved east toward Hamadori region. The bus traveled through Soma and Minamisoma Cities, stopping at some of the places, and finally reached Namie Town area. On the way back, the bus went through a part of still evacuated area such as Obori district. Each of us carried a small dosimeter and my dosimeter measured air radiation dose of between 0.06 and 0.84 micro Sv/h throughout the tour. The maximum dose of 0.84 was seen when moving through still evacuated Obori area. Accumulated dose for 33 hours during the travel was 3.11 micro Sieverts, which was equivalent of 0.83mSv/yr. This is considered below the global safety standard.

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
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Oze marsh in early summer, June 19, 2017 (初夏の尾瀬湿原を歩く 2017年6月19日)

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The second day at Oze National Park was a day of trail trekking through marshes between Onsengoya and Lake Ozenuma. Photo above shows Minezakura cherry trees, a kind of alpine cherry tree, bloom beautiful in the garden of a mountain lodge right beside Lake Ozenuma. Now, the water of Lake Ozenuma flows out via the Nushiri River which then flows into Ozegahara Marsh. The water from Ozegahara Marsh flows through Hiraname and Sanjo Falls and finally makes the Tadami River.

Some of the views and flowers along the trail are shown below.

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Photo above shows yellow marsh marigold flowers bloom all over the marsh field along the trail.

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Skunk cabbage is a symbol of Oze National Park because the flowers are seen everywhere in the marshes during May. However, some late flowers still bloom during this time of June as shown above.

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Mount Shibutsu (2228m) is another symbol of Oze and the beautiful landscape can be seen closely from the trail as shown above. (Actually, Oze National Park has four of the best 100 mountains in Japan: Mt. Shibutsu, Mt. Hiuchigatake, Mt. Aizukomagatake, and Mt. Hiragatake.)

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One of early summer alpine flowers, Tateyama gentian could be seen in small clusters as shown above.

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A board shown above told us that Oze National Park was designated as a special version of National Natural Monument in 1960 in order for special preservation.

Tonight, I stayed at Ozenuma Hut mountain lodge shown in the beginning.

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
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You can trace the route and altitude in the map below.

Autumn leaves at Lake Onogawa, Urabandai, Oct. 14, 2015 (裏磐梯 小野川湖 周辺の 紅葉 2015年10月14日)

Today's visit was Lake Onogawa and the vicinity in Urabandai area, Kitashiobara Village. It was a clear weather today but windy and cold after low pressure system passed toward east. Autumn leaves are showing nice colors due to lower temperature in recent days.
本日は、裏磐梯 の 小野川湖 と、その周辺です。今日は、良い天気でしたが、低気圧通過後の、強風と寒気で寒かったです。そのため、紅葉も進んでいました。

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
20151014小野川湖 (560x420)

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Pictures above show today's views of Lake Onogawa. This lake was created by a massive eruption of Mt. Bandai in 1888.
写真は、本日の、小野川湖 の様子です。この湖は、1888年の磐梯山の大噴火で、できました。

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(Onogawa Fudo Fall and autumn leaves, Urabandai, Oct. 14, 2015, 小野川不動滝 と 紅葉、裏磐梯、北塩原村、2015/10/14)
In the upper stream of Lake Onogawa, there is a large fall called Onogawa Fudo Fall. Today it was surrounded by autumn colors as shown above.
小野川湖の上流に、小野川不動滝 があります。写真のように、紅葉 に彩られていました。

From the fall there is a mountain trail through Gran Deco Ski Resort in the north. I walked along the trail and found beautiful autumn scenery up there.
不動滝 から、北の グランデコ スキーリゾートまで、山道が続いています。ここを、登っていくと、すばらしい秋の光景に出会いました。

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From the park golf course which belong to Gran Deco Hotel, I could see colorful hills surrounding the golf course as shown above.

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(Gran Deco Resort and autumn leaves, Urabandai, Oct. 14, 2015, グランデコ の 紅葉、裏磐梯、北塩原村、2015/10/14)
Finally I arrived at Gran Deco Ski slope and spectacular autumn scenery along the gondola ropeway came into my eyes as shown above.

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Tonight, I stayed at Urabandai Public Inn near Lake Onogawa as shown above. It was a very simple type inn with basic lodging and good meal and of course with very reasonable charge. I love this kind of simple lodgings.
今夜は、小野川湖 の脇にある、裏磐梯国民宿舎 に泊まります。基本的な寝泊りと、おいしい食事がついた、簡素な宿です。値段も安く、私は、このような簡素な宿が好きです。

You can trace the route and altitude in the map below.
Welcome! 福が満開、福のしま。
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Author:A man who loves Fukushima (福島大好きおじさん)
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