Day 25, Mar 24, Namie 浪江

Katagiri and I went inside the 20 kilometer radius of the nuclear power plant. The area is closed to the public. Only residents can return during the day. Everyone has to be out by 4:30pm. The director of the Minsmisoma City Museum, Takahashi Kiyoshi (高橋清), used to live there before the meltdown. We were going to borrow his permit. He decided to drive us personally.



As we got close to the area, I started to see debris and crushed vehicles piled up in the fields. There was not a lack of sights like this during my walk, but they were mostly cleaned up. Not the case here. We went to the roof of a two-story building by the ocean. Things scattered around the way they have been since the tsunami. I saw the chimneys of the nuclear power plant. We were 6 kilometers away from it.



Katagiri and I went into a house. He always tried to find the main door, even when the walls are ripped open. Photo albums were on the floor with images of travel and celebrations. A large piano fell on the ground. A window framed another damaged building. There were sake and flowers near by. People have returned to mourn recently.

We stopped by an elementary school. The students were successfully evacuated during the earthquake. The building was relatively clean. It might have been used as a base for relief workers. Words of encouragement filled the chalkboards. There was a sign of graduation ceremony in the auditorium. If those students eventually had a ceremony, it was most likely not held here.




The meltdown occurred the day after the tsunami. Residents within the 30 kilometer radius were evacuated. Takahashi was receiving inpatient treatment at a hospital. He decided to stay with the patients who could not leave. Later he managed to get a vehicle to send the patients on life support to the safe area. There was a point he thought he would not survive.



We went to Takahashi’s house in Namie. He kept the last newspaper in the mailbox. There were plum blossom and various flowers in the neighborhood. Things look very normal around here, except that there was no people. The town was empty. The radiation level fluctuated in different spots, ranging from 3 to 100 times the normal level. Takahashi liked to joke about the radiation, saying it’s good for his body. “Sasugene”, he said in a Tohoku dialect, meaning it’s ok. There was really not much he can do about it. It was probably a healthy attitude.



Japanese translation by Michiko Owaki    日本語訳:大脇美智子


3 thoughts

  1. This is the ground zero then. What a gruesome sight and life lesson on how natural disaster and manmade nuclear energy combined could bring down human civilization!

  2. Arthur
    You have shown and demonstrated the importance of Art. It has led you on an incredible journey. Art is not just the making of objects but also our moral conscious. You have aided all of us to think bigger.
    Many many thanks

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