My Fukushima report

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Janni
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My Fukushima report

Post by Janni » 16 Dec 2019, 07:23

So this is the report about my visit to the Fukushima area in May this year. I went there during a three weeks Japan round trip and stayed for some days in that area.
So I came from Tokio by train. First to Koriyama station, that was very fast by Shinkansen (convenient and fast Japanese train) and from there I took a small train to Odaka.
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in the train with a green tea cookie
Odaka is a small town close to the exclusion zone where I spent the night in a very nice typical Japanese Ryokan guesthouse. This guesthouse had reopened I think one year ago (I don’t exactly remember) when the people could return to their home.
The people of the guesthouse were very nice and friendly, l felt almost like a part of a family and I had a very good delicious and various Japanese dinner. We also had a lot of fun because they had devices for translating from English to Japanese and sometimes came out very funny sentences. :-)
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very delicious food in family atmosphere
So the next day the tour started. There is an organization “Real Fukushima” with them you can book such tours inside the exclusion zone. Our guide was Karin, she also lives in Odaka right next to the guesthouse where I stayed. We met with another three people from America. So we were a small group of five people. Karin explained us about the situation there and gave us dosimeters, then we started the tour.
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road in Odaka
The first place was an abandoned school in Odaka. Even if people are allowed now to return, just a small part of people did because in all the years they had started a new life somewhere else. So therefore the school was still abandoned.
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view through the window of abandoned school
After the school we drove to a place with some small shops that were very new and just opened a while ago where people sold local food. I think this place was already in Namie or very close to it. The people were so friendly and nice there. We looked around, talked to the people and tried food like some candies. The food was radiation checked and you could see that on the protocols hanging there.
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local food
The next place we went to was the same food court where Massimo also went. We bought some nice food and made a lunch break outside. It was a really beautiful and sunny day and it was a nice conversation with Karin and the other three Americans while we were eating.
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food court

Janni
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Re: My Fukushima report

Post by Janni » 16 Dec 2019, 07:39

After lunch we drove closer to the power plant to areas of Namie, Futaba and Okuma that are in the red zone. We had to pass a checkpoint and show passports to a policeman to go there. We saw empty streets and abandoned houses and shops. We passed abandoned gas stations, a big abandoned pachinko building (Japanese casino) and a bowling center or something like that. But not everything was empty as there is a lot of progress going on reconstructing or demolishing buildings and putting all the contaminated soil in these black plastic bags.
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plastic bags with contaminated soil
We have seen thousands of these bags in different places. Radiation levels were a bit higher, but most of the time it was not more than 2 to 3µSv/h as I remember. The highest radiation level was in a place directly at the coast. This was also for me the most sad place on that tour because there is a fish farm that was directly hit by the tsunami and workers of this fish farm directly died. This place was so especially impressive sad because you could directly see how the wave hit these buildings.
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the coast
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destroyed fish farm
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graffity
The highest radioactive point I found there was about 60µSv/h, that was in a place on the ground.
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hotspot

Janni
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Re: My Fukushima report

Post by Janni » 16 Dec 2019, 07:49

After the fish farm we drove to a hill where on top there was a hospital. That was still in the red zone and one of the the closest points to the power plant, that could be seen from that hill with all the cranes and behind it the coast. We looked a bit around the abandoned hospital and then continued driving to area of Tomioka.
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hospital
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wheelchair
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power plant
A part of Tomioka is still in the red zone, while another part is already open to normal. Some people came back and there was an area with new houses where also Tepco workers live now. We were driving the main road 6 like Massimo also did. This road passes through the red zone, but is allowed without special permit to drive because it is the main connecting road between north and south of the area. Stopping or turning into other roads is not allowed. A big sign is over the road that shows the dose rate that was 1,8µSv/h. This road is opened since years already, but the train connection that goes from Odaka (north) to Tomioka (south) is still closed.
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road sign

Janni
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Re: My Fukushima report

Post by Janni » 16 Dec 2019, 08:05

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empty street
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gas station
In the end of the tour be visited the Tepco information center that shows several things around the accident. How it happened, what steps they did, equipment like robots and personal protection… Before in this building was the accident information center it was something like an electricity or science museum as I remember Karin told us.
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Tepco information center
So the conclusion of my trip:
It was very interesting to see Fukushima area with my own eyes, I wanted to see that already for years. I would confirm everything that Massimo wrote or other people in that tread. It looks like it is still hard to get back to normal life in that area, but people are working busy on that. The panic about going there is completely not necessary. At the end of the tour I had 6µSv on my dosimeter and the others had even a bit less because they did not search so much the hotspots like I did :-)
I had also not any worry about the food there. All the area there and around is so beautiful and people are so nice. I wish the people all the best and good efforts to bring things back to normal.
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dosimeter
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tsunami evacuation sign
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detector station somewhere in that area
Special thanks to Karin and organization “Real Fukushima” for making it possible to see how things really are!!!

I did not have a detector for spectrometry with me on that trip because at that point I did not have a really handy one as I was travelling in Japan only with my backpack, I could not take too many things with me. But I analyzed some sample later, so spectrum will come in the second part of the report! :-)

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Svilen
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Re: My Fukushima report

Post by Svilen » 18 Dec 2019, 08:36

Thanks for posting it. Is this a raw egg in the bowl? :)
Svilen

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Steven Sesselmann
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Re: My Fukushima report

Post by Steven Sesselmann » 18 Dec 2019, 15:46

Janni,

Thanks for posting a great report, I think it will be an interesting read for many years to come and not only for radiation enthusiasts.

I can only imagine what Dr. Seuss could have done with such a trip.


I looked and I looked, but the egg was not cooked,
I can see where you've been, I can see what you saw,
a cookie that was green and a fish that was raw,
this is no food from a can, it's a real trip to Japan !


Steven

Janni
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Re: My Fukushima report

Post by Janni » 19 Dec 2019, 08:07

Thanks for nice comments!

Yes, it is a raw egg and I had to ask how to eat it. So the solution is: there is meat and a soup with vegetables in the cooking pot in the right top of the picture. Under this pot there is a flame and I should wait until the flame is finished, so then the meat is cooked. Then they told me I should stir the egg and dip the meat in it.
So not really self-explaining for me and without asking I would never know. The situation of showing how to eat it was so funny for all of us :-)

Steven, you are a real poet, I like that very much! :-))

Sorry for writing in the spectrum category without the spectrum, but that will come on the weekend together with the second part of story!

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Go-Figure
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Re: My Fukushima report

Post by Go-Figure » 23 Dec 2019, 02:38

Nice report Janni.
We could organise a forum group tour next time :)
As you said in the other thread, your photos are familiar to me....except for the green cookie!

Massimo

Janni
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Re: My Fukushima report

Post by Janni » 23 Dec 2019, 08:11

Go-Figure wrote:
23 Dec 2019, 02:38
Nice report Janni.
We could organise a forum group tour next time :)
As you said in the other thread, your photos are familiar to me....except for the green cookie!

Massimo
I would appreciate a forum group tour :-)

Here is the second part of my report:

So as I stayed some days in that area, I also went to Fukushima City and stayed there in a hotel. Fukushima City is more than 30km away from the exclusion zone and not on the coast, so there was no tsunami and no radiation there. It is a medium size city that has a good connection to Tokio by Shinkansen train.

So I wanted to explore the surrounding of the exclusion zone for one day for myself. On a map in the internet I found a place called Litate that was very close to the exclusion zone, but not inside. I decided to go there and found a way to get close to there by public transport (I could not rent a car because I would have needed a Japanese translation of my German drivers license, and I was too lazy to care about such formality).
So there was no bus going directly to Litate. I found out that a bus goes to a village called Kawamata, from where I would have to walk about 15km. But I did not consider this as a problem because I like hiking and the weather was so good…

The bus stop was close to my hotel, but it was not easy to find the correct bus. There was not much written in English. So I asked different bus drivers that stopped there, but all of them went in the wrong direction. One bus driver get out and showed me on the Japanese bus schedule the word Kawamata. So from then on I compared the Japanese signs on all buses that came until this one arrived. It was really not so easy with these signs…

It was around 10 or 11 in the morning and it was already very hot, but I was prepared and had some water bottles in my backpack for the long walk. The bus tour took really long (as I remember about an hour) because the bus stopped many times. The landscape was beautiful, but not much inhabited. Not because of the tsunami, I think even before it was more a quiet area. The closer the bus came to Kawamata, the more people got out and at the end station I was the last passenger in the bus.

So from there I started my long walk to the direction Litate. The walk was much harder as I expected because it was already about 38 degrees. I walked along the main road and there was not much shadow to hide from the sun. Besides I did not consider that the whole way lead uphill. I was already dead tired after two kilometers, this was one of these moments in life you think: Normal people on holiday would now be on the beach relaxing…

But I was lucky because a car stopped and the driver asked me if I need a lift :-)

So I got in the car and had a nice small talk with this Japanese guy. He was a worker with a lot of tools in his car and cool guy with long hair listening to Japanese heavy metal music. I told him that I like the music and he said he knows “Wacken Open Air” (big metal festival in north Germany)!

After some kilometers he dropped me at a brand new roadhouse with a 7-Eleven. This roadhouse was like an oasis of convenience in this hot summer area with air condition and nice toilets, an area to sit and eat. I bought new cold drinks and something to eat and then continued my way walking after a rest.
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the convenient roadhouse

Janni
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Re: My Fukushima report

Post by Janni » 23 Dec 2019, 08:27

I don’t exactly remember where I walked. I walked many kilometers besides main roads and also on very small gravel roads. The whole area was more or less empty and partly abandoned. There were just few houses and villages.

As I walked more the small roads, I saw some abandoned houses and cars, again many of the black bags that contain contaminated soil, and some of these radiation detection stations that are everywhere in the area. Radiation was completely normal on these stations and my geiger counter also confirmed normal. So they were very successful and hardworking cleaning the area. Only when I walked inside the forest, radiation sometimes increased up to ten times normal (about 1µSv/h).
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more black bags
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overgrown mini bus
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detector station
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motorbike
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somewhere near the forest

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