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~The town where no one lived, but this is still our homeland~ Afterimages in a community with a nuclear power plant (Tomioka, Fukushima Pref.)


Tomioka, facing the Pacific Ocean in the eastern part of Fukushima Pref., is a quiet seaside town located approx. 250 km northward from Tokyo. Due to the 3.11 disasters and the accident of the Fukushima Daiichi NPP, it was dramatically changed and when barricades were in place not to accept people.


In this issue, I’d like to write about the “The Historical Archive Museum Of Tomioka”.


Opened in 2021, the museum collects documents and cultural assets that inherit the history of Tomioka, as well as permanent exhibitions that show how the Fukushima Daini NPP was built in the town and what happened afterwards, and records of the 3.11 disaster.



Many of these were one of the normal daily scenes until the disaster, however they were called “Disaster dangerous waste” or “Contaminated debris” after and be hated.



When we see the “ordinary” goods collected as “materials” after more than 10 years of twists and turns since the disaster, we cannot help but feel the significance of a local museum preserving items that are deeply etched in the daily lives of the community.


Memories are in the minds of individuals, but when we look at what survivors’ clothes, notes, broken clocks, and other personal records of their experiences, we can imagine what they tell us about their past. Then, we can accept the memories of those who experienced the disaster as our own.



We have disaster- or war-themed facilities and “dark tourism” around the world, but behind them there are lives that were sacrificed and valuable materials that happened to be left behind for future generations without being scrubbed away. Nowadays, there are more and more facilities in the areas affected by the 3.11 disaster to hand down the experiences, and while most of them exhibit the disaster and local history completely separately, there are not many facilities like the ones in Tomioka that exhibit the damaged materials that preserve the memory of the disaster and the cultural assets that tell the history of the town in the same space. In other words, a facility that allows visitors to see the timeline of the disaster is a valuable asset.


According to the survey conducted in 2019, nearly 50% of the residents chose “No return” to Tomioka. With no hope of the evacuees returning to their hometowns, we can only hope that one part of the recovery process will be to learn that such a town actually exists in Japan, and how to weave together the history of the region.







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