Today we took the train from our hotel in Fukushima City to Date City’s municipal branch office, where we will be working for the next three weeks. We spent time this morning debriefing about our meeting with the mayor yesterday and then met with the manager for the Office of Agriculture for a few hours. He provided us with a deeper view of all the actions taken to minimize radioactive contamination of the crops, which included treating the rice patties with a compound to prevent the rice from absorbing radiation and power washing the fruit trees one by one. They have also done a very thorough job of testing the rice and produce being sold to market for radiation during the past two years. The levels have been well below the accepted standard, which has been made far stricter in Japan than anywhere else. In fact, you could say that consumers know more about the safety of the products from the areas affected by the nuclear disaster than they do about products from other parts of Japan and certainly from other countries.
While Date City is far from a bustling town, we had an excellent lunch at a local restaurant that specializes in ramen. This was a restaurant for locals, every time someone familiar walked in, the cooks belted out a large greeting. The ramen was EXCELLENT. The other nice surprise was a finding a large drug store in town (and considering how few stores there were in general, it was surprising). We were all able to stock up on things we forgot to pack. And the third good thing was dinner. The American team members convinced the Japanese team members to take us to a non-fancy, local restaurant. So we went for dumplings — and some sake. Again, an excellent meal.
On a sad note, we said goodbye to our two friends from CDC, the group that arranged all of our trip logistics. Amanda and Matt really got us off to a great start. They headed back for the States today. We miss them already.