Report of Fukushima exclusion zone tour from Tokyo

Last week, we visited Fukushima exclusion zone.

We have been to disaster area of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima.
But it’s first time for us to visit the area of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster (wiki).

That’s not fun but it’s worth to visit there and see the real with your eye own.

Where is Fukushima exclusion zone

We had The Great East Japan Earthquake on 11th March 2011.
In The Great East Japan Earthquake, we had three disasters, earthquake, Tsunami and nuclear.

Many people know “Fukushima” as nuclear disaster area.
But we would like to say “Fukushima” is NOT same as Fukushima pref. or Fukushima city.

(*Image of the area of three disasters)

Nuclear exclusion zone is located in only middle east of Fukushima Pref.

A magnitude 9.0-9.1 was really strong and it affected over a wide area.
But fortunately my grand farther’s house in Miyagi pref. was NOT broken and they are safe.
Actually we felt a strong quake, furniture were moved,  some houses were also broken.
But damage of earthquake was limited.

We shocked when we saw the Tsunami hit Tohoku area. This was surely a nightmare.
Many people lost their life. So many houses were lost. We found a barren field after that.
But already 7 years has passed, and recovery efforts have progressed around the coast area.

As for nuclear disaster, it is not solved yet.
Though 7 years has passed, there is still exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

In brief, there are three levels of restriction zone.

  1. Difficult-to-return Zone (帰宅困難区域)
    • Annual integrated doses are over 50mSv.
    • Entry is prohibited with some exceptions.
    • Lodging is prohibited
  2. Restricted residence Zone (住居制限区域)
    • Annual integrated doses are between 20mSv and 50mSv.
    • Entry is permitted, and business operation is partially permitted.
    • Lodging is prohibited with some exceptions.
  3. Evacuation order cancellation preparation Zone (避難指示解除準備区域)
    • Annual integrated doses are below 20mSv.
    • Entry is permitted, and business operation is permitted.
    • Lodging is prohibited with some exceptions.


Source: Fukushima pref. website

 

On 1st April. 2017, many areas where evacuation orders have been lifted.


Source: Fukushima pref. website

 

Now only 2.7% occupation (371km2) of the entire area of Fukushima Prefecture is the evacuation designated areas.

 

We visited Fukushima exclusion zone.
It’s about 3 hours from Tokyo by car.

 

What is in Fukushima exclusion zone

Of course recovery efforts is progressing around nuclear disaster area.
Many people work for recovery in exclusion area.

J village where was a national football training center is one of the base camp of construction companies now.

 

Difficult-to-return zone

As for difficult-to-return zone, we basically couldn’t enter this area.
But its width is about 30km, so we could drive through main road.

There are many houses along this road with a barricade.
This means here was NOT the area of Tsunami disaster.

Japan government decided that here is difficult-to-return zone,
then they don’t do enough nuclear decontamination this area.

So radiation dose is much higher than other area.
We measured the radiation dose with Geiger counter and it’s less than 50mSv on that date.

 

Evacuation order cancellation preparation zone

We entered Evacuation order cancellation preparation zone which is located in Futaba town.

Japan government did nuclear decontamination in this area.
So radiation dose is nearly equal as Tokyo.
It was really surprised for us!
It’s just 4-5km away from Fukushima daiichi nuclear power plant.

We could find some broken houses which were hit by Tsunami.
Those houses are not yet demolished.

 

Areas where evacuation orders have been lifted on 1st April 2017

In areas where evacuation orders have been lifted on 1st April 2017,
we witnessed the threat of Tsunami, but same time we found rays of hope.

 

Namie town (lifted from evacuation order cancellation preparation zone)

Here was evacuation order cancellation preparation zone.
There is nothing. Almost of all houses and building were demolished.

This is the threat of Tsunami.

 

But a building was still there. This was a elementary school.

 

The clock was stopped around 3:40 when Tsunami attacked this school.
Fortunately students are safe, they took refuge to safe place which is 2km away.

 

This is Geiger counter and radiation dose is nearly equal as Tokyo here, too.

 

There is a station in this town.
This station restarted from 1st April 2017.

 

See the map of JR line.
Left side of the arrow is not connected.

 

It’s under difficult-to-return zone and not yet recovered.

 

Namie town (lifted from restricted residence zone)

In west side of Namie town, there was restricted residence zone until 1st April 2017.
But some people have been staying since 3.11 because they are farmer and they couldn’t forsake their cows.

 

After 3.11, they couldn’t ship these cows to market due to radiation dose, but they still breed them.

They love their cattle and they still angry to Japan government and TEPCO.

 

Tomioka town (lifted from evacuation order cancellation preparation zone)

Namie town is north to Fukushima daiichi nuclear power plant.
Tomioka town is South to them, there is Tomioka town which was also evacuation order cancellation preparation zone until 1st April 2017.

We found rays of hope in this area.

A supermarket is already opened which was open 30th March 2017, just before evacuation orders have been lifted.

 

The recovery from disaster is in a chicken or egg situation.

If people come back to the place, many shops and facilities will open.
If many shops and facilities open, people will come back.

It’s important to invest first.
We much appreciate this supermarket company!

And there are some houses around this supermarket.
People are beginning to return.

We bought some foods in this supermarket thanks to their investment.

 

“FUKUSHIMA” area is still in the process of recovering from nuclear disaster.
We hope many people who want to live there will back to their home town in the near future.

 

How to get Fukushima exclusion zone (Access information from Tokyo)

1. Public transportation (JR line/bus)

There is not enough public transportation to Fukushima exclusion zone.
But you can go Tomioka town by train and there is bus from Tomioka to Namie.

To Tomioka station from Ueno station (3hours/6,930JPY)
-Take JR Joban line “Hitachi” from Ueno to Iwaki
-Take JR Joban line from Iwaki to Tomioka
To Namie station from Tomioka station (30minutes/410JPY)
-Take JR bus from Tomioka to Namie
* Be careful that there are 6 buses in a day from Tomioka to Namie and 5 from Namie to Tomioka

 

2. Car rental

There are lots of rent-a-car shop in Japan.
If you rent a car, you can enter Restricted residence Zone and main road of Difficult-to-return Zone.

 

3. Tour

Some companies and people (including us) offer a tour to exclusion zone.
It’s more convenient to understand Fukushima exclusion zone.

+Japan Wonder Travel (Day trip/23,000JPY per person)
+Voyagin(Day trip/47,500JPY per person)

 

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