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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Mt. Adatara in mid-August, Aug. 19, 2015 (夏の安達太良山、2015年8月19日)

Today, I visited Mt. Adatara in Nihonmatsu City during a short break between rainy days.

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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On the way, there was a beautiful cattle ranch on the lower slope of the mountain as shown above.

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I pedaled my bike to Okudake (950m) from which I took a long ropeway ride up to the height of 1350m. It was not a very clear day but here (above) are some views up there with the peak of Mt. Adatara in the back.

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There were not so many kinds of flowers on Mt. Adatara in this time of the year. But this time I expected to see some early gentians starting to bloom. I walked halfway towards the peak of the mountain and there they were as shown in the pictures above. There were many new buds to bloom in the coming days or weeks.

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Meanwhile, yellow flowers of Solidago virgaurea were in full bloom along both sides of the mountain trail as shown above.

You can play back the route and altitude on the map below.

Recovering Tomioka Town, Aug. 16, 2015 (富岡町にて 2015年8月16日)

Today I visited Tomioka Town, Fukushima. All the town area is still in the evacuation zone and bike is not allowed in a large part of it. (Only car traffic is allowed.) This time, a member of Omotenashi Guide Fukushima picked me up into the town and I had a chance to visit some places in the town.
本日は、富岡町を訪ねました。富岡町は、全域が避難区域で、自転車も通れないところがまだ多い状態です。(車の通行のみ許可) 今回は、おもてなし福島通訳ガイドの会のメンバーに、別件で車に乗せてもらい、訪れることができました。

The exact route and locations are shown in the map below. The map can be scaled up and down with a click and scroll.
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First, I visited a beautiful ranch with many cattle and other animals. A resident of the town had kept feeding the animals since the earthquake and nuclear accident four years ago.

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Above picture shows an ostrich and its egg just laid yesterday.

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Pictures above show cattle in the ranch. It was beautiful scenery of the countryside.

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On the other hand, still there was a barricade for no entry into the difficult-to-return zone as shown above.

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JR Tomioka Station had been severely hit by the tsunami and is being planned to be relocated to inner area. There is a memorial on the old Tomioka Station site as shown above.
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A man who loves Fukushima (福島大好きおじさん)

Author:A man who loves Fukushima (福島大好きおじさん)
Local guide for Fukushima (English)(福島地域通訳案内士(英語))
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