Shopping center opens in Naraha, a disaster-hit Fukushima town

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Shopping center opens in disaster-hit Fukushima town as evacuees return
June 26, 2018
Iwaki – A new shopping complex opened Tuesday in the town of Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, nearly three years after the government’s evacuation order following the 2011 nuclear disaster was lifted.
The public facility, dubbed “Kokonara Shotengai,” consists of 10 shops including a supermarket, a bakery and a barber’s shop.
The Chinese character meaning “laughter” was used as part of the name as a way to encourage and inspire returning residents.
The new shopping complex is adjacent to emergency public housing, a medical institution and a childcare center. It replaces a makeshift shopping district located elsewhere in the town.
Local residents welcomed the latest development in their hometown.
“I’m so glad that the opening day has come. I have been waiting for this for so long,” said 78-year-old Hisako Ishiyama, who, until March, lived in the city of Minamisoma.
Ishiyama previously had to travel by train or in her friend’s car to neighboring towns just to shop.
“Life will be easier,” she said after buying items such as a sliced raw tuna for dinner.
Evacuation orders and advisories were issued for some areas in Fukushima following the disaster. Naraha was the first on which the government lifted the evacuation order for a municipality whose entire population was ordered to evacuate in September 2015.
Most of Naraha lies within a 20-kilometer radius of the crippled nuclear plant, where three reactors experienced meltdowns after a massive earthquake and tsunami hit the eastern Japan in March 2011.
As of the end of May, 3,343 of 7,046 registered residents have returned to the town.
 
Fukushima town opens shopping center for returnees
June 26, 2018
The town of Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, has opened a shopping center for the benefit of residents who have returned following the earthquake and nuclear crisis in 2011, and to encourage others to come home.
The area where the 3,300-square-meter complex is located includes public housing and medical institutions.
Ten businesses including a supermarket, hardware store and restaurants opened their doors on Tuesday.
The evacuation order in Naraha was lifted in September 2015. As of the end of May, nearly half the town’s former inhabitants had come back.
The town has begun operating free shuttle bus services between all its districts and the center to make life easier for those who return.
One woman said she’s happy that the center is accessible and that it will become a place where the townsfolk can socialize.
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Welcome to Naraha, a ghost town in Fukushima’s shadow where dolls have replaced the people

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Dolls are positioned at the entrance to a cafe in Naraha

At first glance, the Japanese town of Naraha appears normal, if a little quiet. 

There are a handful of residents dotted about the place – a few in the post office, and some others in the bank – though several are oddly still. 

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A doll is positioned by the ATM inside the post office in Naraha Town, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan

There are some youngsters loitering around too, but the older residents say they don’t mind as they never cause any trouble.

In fact, they say, it is nice to have some new faces around a town still struggling to come to terms with the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which brought the community to its knees. 

Even if they are only dummies.

The life-sized mannequins are the work of a group of elderly women who have taken it upon themselves to “repopulate” their town, after most of its inhabitants fled during the March 2011 disaster, which took place just 12 miles away. 

These days most of Naraha former residents are scattered across the country.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/26/welcome-naraha-ghost-town-fukushimas-shadowwhere-dolls-have/

Fukushima ‘ghost town’ uses dummies to fill sad post-3/11 void

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Completed dummies sit while women make another in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, on Nov. 14.

 

NARAHA, Fukushima Prefecture–Ghosts of the past are all around in this Fukushima town whose communities were decimated in the aftermath of the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Less than one-tenth of Naraha’s residents have come home since its evacuation order was lifted, but some who did return have devised a creative solution to the population problem.

Locals have formed a group to make dummies to place them around the town in lieu of the many human inhabitants who have been absent since the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant disaster of March 2011.

The results are poignant.

All residents of Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, were ordered to evacuate the area following the triple meltdown, and were given the green light to return in September 2015.

However, only 718 residents–less than 10 percent of the town’s total population–had returned to their homes as of Nov. 4 this year.

Missing their friends and neighbors, some of the returned residents started the dummy project in June this year.

Currently, five women are making mannequins, including members of local voluntary group, Nanikashitai (“I want to do something”), which numbers about 30 members.

The women gather once a month at a former elementary school building to assemble cotton-stuffed heads, wooden frames, and arms and legs made from rolled newspapers. Then, they choose outfits and dress them.

The “ages” of the figures range from two to 85, according to the women.

So far, the women have completed 28 dummies, of which more than 10 occupy seven locations, including a financial institution and a day-care facility. When they showed them at an event in the town, they had visitors name them, and they even registered them as town residents.

We hope that the dummies will bring a smile to the faces of those who see them,” said Kaneko Takahara, 68, one of the women.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201611170053.html

Dumpling soup from Fukushima like grandma used to make

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“Ganimaki suiton” (front) from Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture and “mami suiton” (back) of Naraha.

The Japan Football Village (J-Village) is a soccer training facility located in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, where Yoshiteru Nishi, chef for the national soccer team, works.

It is located about 20 kilometers from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. After the 2011 accident at the plant, J-Village was used as a base for decommissioning work.

The green grass pitch was covered in gravel and turned into a parking lot. The restaurant was closed.

That summer, Nishi was asked to cook for the decommissioning workers. He had seen the workers eating canned or boil-in-the-bag foods.

“There are people who need my skills,” Nishi thought, and opened a cafeteria at the facility. He served a buffet of fried chicken, grilled fish, simmered dishes and more. He wanted to support those working in a grueling environment with nutritious meals.

Meanwhile, he opened a restaurant in the neighboring town of Hirono, where eating and drinking establishments remained closed due to the nuclear power plant accident.

“I wanted to create a place where the residents returning from evacuation spots can eat warm meals and feel relaxed,” the 54-year-old chef says.

The menu includes “suiton,” a local dumpling soup with chicken and vegetables that was popular at J-Village. Former national team coach Philippe Troussier once commented, “This is grandma’s taste,” and named it “mami suiton” (mommy’s suiton).

Nishi also introduced another version of suiton called “ganimaki,” a local specialty of Minami-Soma.

Ganimaki is a soup of “mokuzu-gani” (Japanese mitten crab) caught in local rivers. They are finely crushed and run through a sieve. When poured into boiling water, the essence floats up in fluffy form. In Minami-Soma, it is a dish served on festive occasions.

When he was small, Nishi would busy himself catching the deep-green-colored crabs in the river. When his mother stir-fried them with eggs, they tasted heavenly.

Due to radiation contamination caused by the Fukushima plant accident, the Japanese mitten crabs of Minami-Soma are not allowed to be consumed.

“I yearn for them all the more,” Nishi says.

For the recipe, he used crabs caught in Iwaki in southern Fukushima Prefecture.

“The food culture of Fukushima has been nurtured by the large number of people who live here,” Nishi says. “I will strive to keep the tradition alive.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201607270008.html

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The Japan Football Village (J-Village) is a soccer training facility located in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, where Yoshiteru Nishi, chef for the national soccer team, works.