Title: In Fukushima, Surreal Serenity
Author: By KUMIKO MAKIHARA, Op-Ed Contributor
Date: July 23, 2012
In Fukushima, Surreal Serenity
KORIYAMA, JAPAN — The traditional inn nestled amid the mountainous countryside offered all the luxurious comforts for which these old-style hotels are famous. An elegant and eye-pleasing eight-course dinner was served in our room. The outdoor hot-spring bath had a view of lush foliage covering a steep cliff, lit up to highlight the diverse shades of green. A soothing sound emanated from a river flowing below. I could have been anywhere in Japan enjoying the typically understated royal treatment.
Only this time, when I checked out, instead of a parting gift of a box of local confectionaries or a hand towel with the hotel’s name on it, the owner handed me a plastic bag containing a vinyl raincoat, cotton gloves and a gauze mask. “Just in case you need it,” he said. “Sometimes when it rains, the numbers are high.” He was referring to measurements of radiation.
On a recent visit to Fukushima Prefecture, I encountered a surreal situation where residents lived and worked with impressive calm and normalcy amid daunting circumstances: an ongoing struggle to decommission the nuclear plants damaged last year by earthquakes and a tsunami, questions about the health effects of exposure to radiation, and what seem like endless revelations of negligence and misjudgment by government and power company officials that contributed to the disaster.
Recent video from Koriyama
Published: July 23rd, 2012 at 6:45 am ET