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The Forgotten Landscapes of Fukushima

Photographer Kaz Senju has been visiting the site of the infamous nuclear power plant disaster for years. This is what he's seen.

by Kaz Senju
12 March 2016, 12:00am

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

These photographs are a record of my eight visits to Fukushima since the summer of 2011. It's only an hour and a half train ride from busy Tokyo to the quiet town of Fukushima. The recovery slogan on the side of the train reminded me of what happened, the nuclear disaster and the long recovery effort. On my first visit to Fukushima, the city was frighteningly empty. Later on, more people returned, and the city has regained some of its vigor as time has passed.

The town of Soma, in Fukushima prefecture, is located 14 miles north of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Soma used to be a prosperous fishing town. Now you can see the scars from the tsunami everywhere, with blank white signs standing in empty commercial lots.

The village of Iitate is 25 miles away from the power plant, but it was still hit by a wave of radiation due to the wind pattern on the day of the disaster. Most of the village's former inhabitants still live in government-supplied temporary housing, and the place sits empty and eerily silent.

Many of the people of Iitate used to enjoy the slow pace life in big farmhouses, but they are now forced to live in 325-square-foot prefabricated houses or tiny apartments.

One woman I spoke to, Mrs. Kanno (below), laughed as she recalled the days when she chased a wild boar from her farm. But her eyes turned blank as she pictured the landscape that she could never forget.

From Kaz Senju's book Fukushima: Forgotten Landscape. Follow him on Instagram