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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

"Blue" house eerily silent

"Blue" house eerily silent

November 1, 2017


Fukushima town burns blue under bright, serious moonlight





FUTABA, Fukushima Prefecture--A full moon lights up the sky above the house, illuminating a photograph of two smiling children in their room. But no children play at this house.


A teddy bear lies abandoned in an awkward pose on the carpet as if suddenly dropped in an emergency. It is eerily silent. It has been for years.


It looks like the family who lived there just vanished. In fact, they did. This house is now part of a ghost town.


The entire population of Futaba, which co-hosts the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, is currently living outside of the town. Much of the town remains designated as a “difficult-to-return zone” more than six-and-a-half years after the nuclear disaster.


“My wife and I designed every single detail of this house,” said a 43-year-old evacuee who gave permission for The Asahi Shimbun to set up cameras inside his former home. “But we could only live there for four years after building it.”


On Oct. 4, several unmanned cameras were set up inside and around the house, which was once part of a newly developed housing area, with permission from the town government and the property owner.


The plan was to capture the atmosphere of this unlit, uninhabited neighborhood on a quiet night with a clear sky and full October moon.


A long-exposure shot captured the moonlight shining on a photo of the man’s children in what was once their room. They were 5 and 7 at the time of the 2011 disaster. Now, they are a sixth-grader at elementary school and a second-grader at junior high school.


The family now lives in another newly built house in Ibaraki Prefecture.


The family spent much of the kids’ childhood taking refuge in different places after they were evacuated from Futaba, so the children do not consider it their hometown.


“When I ask them where their hometown is, they answer, ‘Saitama Prefecture’ (where they once stayed),” the father said.


Those under the age of 15 are banned from entering the area, so the children have never visited the house since being evacuated shortly after the disaster.


He says he often ponders how he can “pass on Futaba” to his children.


The house he planned to fill with memories will soon just be a memory itself. It will be torn down to help make way for a huge intermediate storage facility for radiation-contaminated soil.


(This article was written by Tetsuro Takehana and Shigetaka Kodama.)


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