Add to Lightbox Download
Hidekatsu Ouchi is a farmer from Yamakiya village, in the middle of the Fukushima Exclusion Zone. Although the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is over 30 miles away, the worst contamination blew directly towards his village. He knows he’ll never be able to farm here again due to the high radiation levels, but he hasn’t given up hope that he’ll be allowed to live here. As a temporary solution, he’s rented his farmhouse out to a team of radiobiologists for use as a research station — which gives him a reason to come back regularly for visits. <br />
<br />
Standing beside his family’s shrine, Ouchi writes that his hope is that “Somehow I want to restore Yamakiya to its previous situation by any means possible, and live there together (with all the original residents), all of us again.” However, he worries this is impossible: “Yamakiya, which I love and where I was born and lived until today, I worry how it’s going to be here from now on.”<br />
<br />
In March 2011, an earthquake and tsunami hit northern Japan and destroyed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Some 488 thousand people evacuated from the three-part disaster; in 2015, nearly 25% remain displaced.<br />
<br />
A massive effort is now underway to decontaminate towns in the Fukushima Exclusion Zone. In Tomioka, 5 to 8 miles from the nuclear plant, thousands of laborers are cleaning or demolishing every building, and removing and incinerating all topsoil in inhabited areas. In the adjacent forests and mountains, radiation levels remain higher and will not be cleaned.<br />
<br />
Naraha, 12 miles south of the nuclear plant, is the first town to reopen after the disaster. Residents were allowed to return home full-time on Sept. 5, 2015. To date, an estimated 440 residents have returned, out of a pre-disaster population of 7,400. <br />
<br />
I returned to Fukushima one week after Naraha reopened and spent a month there, interviewing and photographing returnees and decontamination workers. I asked portrait subjects to write down thei
Hidekatsu Ouchi is a farmer from Yamakiya village, in the middle of the Fukushima Exclusion Zone. Although the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is over 30 miles away, the worst contamination blew directly towards his village. He knows he’ll never be able to farm here again due to the high radiation levels, but he hasn’t given up hope that he’ll be allowed to live here. As a temporary solution, he’s rented his farmhouse out to a team of radiobiologists for use as a...
more »

Filename: JP-Yamakiya-OUCHI-Hidekatsu-portrait15-B15244.JPG
Copyright