“We Love Fukushima”, Koriyama, Fukushima, Japan
I made my way to Koriyama from Sendai via Shinkansen Yamabiko to continue my travel across Tohoku Region. In between these two cities is Fukushima City, the center of the 2011 nuclear plant disaster, where the train made a brief stop to board and disembark passengers. I was surprised to see that there were quite a lot of people who might be still living in the city despite the proximity to the damaged plant and the knowledge of the health risk of radiation exposure.
How is it to live in a place where everyone is fleeing away from? Do you stay because it is the only place you knew home, despite the looming ambiance of uncertainty and fear? I wondered as I look at the train platform where a couple holding a baby stroller was waiting for their train.
Located only 55km away from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plant, the city of Koriyama was exempted from the 30km forced mandatory evacuation, though some has chosen to leave despite what the government press release of safety.
For those who decided to stay, obviously life continues as usual, but maybe there are certain things that will never be the same again. I stayed only for two days,in Koriyama, definitely not in the position to judge what the town people were feeling or thinking, but based on what I have seen I can confidently say this- they love their town, they love Fukushima.
The main road of Sakura Dori was closed for traffic. People are patiently waiting on the sideline for the parade. This kind of program possibly not only a mere once in a while town celebration but now a usual activity with an intention of offering a moment for town people to smile.
Flags of different sizes and design were waved, a truck carrying a speaker for the performers music leading the way, dancers wearing a simple t-shirt costume only – all of them has one message only “We love Fukushima”.
Designated as one of Fukushima prefecture “core city”, Koriyama is pleasant town to see.
From the tall building of Big-I, to the fashionable streets of Motomachi and the autumn shades at Nyohoji Temple, the city has a lot to offer and a good base in case you plan a Fukushima prefecture exploration.
There are a lot of uncertainty about the radiation and the long term health effect on those who chooses to stay. I hope one day soon, Koriyama, the neighboring town and the whole Tohoku Prefecture will be able to heal completely from the tragedy of last year.
This is the end of my Tohoku Region exploration for now. I hope with this platform, I was able to convince you to help in the recovery of the region by doing what all of us love the most- traveling.