2013 Tomioka Town, Fukushima Exclusion Zone

55 images Created 7 May 2013

Tomioka Town in the Futaba District of Fukushima Prefecture in Japan was badly affected by the events of March 11th 2011. First the earthquake, that struck at 2:46pm, damaged many of the houses and roads in the town; then the coastal parts of the town were flattened in the tsunami that followed. The tsunami also-wiped out the cooling systems at the nearby Fukushima Daichi nuclear power station causing explosions and meltdowns in the reactors there. Due to high radiation levels the town's population of nearly 16,000 was evacuated on March 12th and almost no-one has been there since. Sealed inside the 20 kilometre exclusion zone that was set up around the stricken nuclear plant in the summer of 2011 the town has remained pretty much as it stood just after the tsunami, though nature is slowly reclaiming the ruined houses and brackish fields.
On March 25th 2013 the Japanese Government revised the exclusion zone restrictions opening up certain areas that had lower radiation readings within the twenty kilometres for residents who wanted to return to check on houses and other property. Tomioka was one of the places that became accessible from this date though restrictions still apply, for example visits are only permissible during the daylight hours and areas of the town are still off limits. Radiation levels are still too high for permanent habitation and many of the houses and shops are shuttered and sad even as the streetlight flicker on at night and the traffic signals mark time for roads that now, and possibly forever more, are empty of cars.
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