It’s hard to believe that we have only been in Japan for four days, we have already done and seen so much it feels like we’ve been here for a few weeks.
Today, we started out early to tour the cities in Japan hardest hit by the tsunami and nuclear accident that happened two years ago. The damage from the tsunami and earthquake are what you would expect … buildings and homes with collapsed roofs and broken windows, along with debris of twisted metal, wood and cars strewn across empty fields.
But the larger disaster is the nuclear accident. Two years later there are still towns that are uninhabitable due to the levels of radiation. Entire towns lay dormant as residents were forced to evacuate and are still not able to return to their homes. Even towns in which the restrictions have been lessened remain fairly empty. People are afraid to return home, especially families with young children. An evacuee showed us her town…we did not see a single person and barely a car on what should have been a busy Sunday afternoon. She believes that even when residents can return full time that only about 3,000 of the 13,000 will return.
During lunch, a fisherman shared his story with us. In his town, the tsunami wiped out the fishing industry and claimed the lives of two-thirds of the fisherman. The man is working with others to think of creative ways to make a living and rekindle interest in the foods and crafts of their town.
We ended the tour in Date City — where our project will begin tomorrow. A city official spent some time with us talking about the farming industry there and the course of events after March 11. The city had already been struggling with attracting new, younger residents to farm and after the nuclear accident certain crops where restricted from shipping due to high levels of radiation. Now, their problem is a lot about perception…while the rice and fruits have tested below the acceptable level of radiation, consumers are still reluctant to buy them. Hopefully, our team will be able to help the city begin to develop a plan to address the issue.
The fisherman and two others who set up a temporary restaurant where we had lunch. The fish was imported from Norway.
The soup had tiny clams, not much bigger than a lemon pit