Robert Knoth and Antoinette de Jong visited the Fukushima region with Greenpeace in the autumn of 2011 to bear witness to the effects wrought on the region by the nuclear fallout from the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The shadow of radiation now looms over the people, the animals, and the environment of this area of Japan. Well-kept agricultural land is now becoming wild, children's play areas and petrol stations are contaminated and abandoned, and nature is taking back roads. Each photo captures the eerie beauty of a region left in limbo as radioactive fallout permeates all aspects of life.
Map of Japan showing the area covered in this exhibition
Radiation levels 5.7 microsieverts an hour / 70 times above normal. The normal rate before the Fukushima nuclear disaster was 0.08 microsieverts an hour.
A depot sits abandoned and deteriorating in Tsushima, a village in Namie district, close to the exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. With such high radiation levels, workers cannot return and it is possible they may never be able to.
Tatsuko Ogawara and her husband Shin have been organic farmers for 26 years in Funehiki, tilling, planting and harvesting crops from the same soil their family has worked for six generations. On 15 March, four days after the earthquake and tsunami, the alarm on the family's radiation detector – which they bought due to radiation worries during the Chernobyl disaster - went off and kept beeping as radiation levels rose. For the family, it was a terrifying moment.
The family evacuated to Koriyama for five days. However, worried about their small farm, her husband and his mother decided to return. "We have cattle and chickens and we had to come back to feed them. We couldn't leave them and go elsewhere."
"Until now I was anti-nuclear energy, but I didn't do much about it. And now that such a terrible accident has happened I've started to feel that if I don't do something now then when wilI I do it? If we don't do anything, who will? Every day I wonder what I should do. I've decided to try doing even tiny things, everything that I can offer."
On 21 March, 10 days after the Fukushima disaster, Mr Sato started using his Twitter account to put pressure on the government to provide proper information on the accident to the inhabitants of the nearby village of Iitate, where he was born. He now has some 6,000 followers.
Mr Sato believes the disaster has caused serious generational rifts in the evacuated villages. "We wanted to leave our village shortly after the accident, thinking it was not safe. But the older people wanted to stay, so we could not go." Eventually, everyone had to leave.
Mr Sato now lives alone in Fukushima CIty. He misses his village, his friends and family. With passion he talks about the beauty of his village, the traditional wooden houses, the gardens, the fields and the trees. For him, it is not only people who have been affected by this disaster, but a whole way of life, and one he may never be able to return to.
Long time residents and farmers from the village of Okuma Machi,
around 7.5 kilometres from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, Ms Oga
and her husband had just finished building and moved in to their new
house when the disaster struck.
As with other people in the region, she has had three chances to
return to her property, but she did not want to apply believing that
it shouldn't be so easy for people to return to such a contaminated
area. Her husband went and confirmed that the house was undamaged from
the earthquake, but their vegetable gardens were overgrown with weeds,
and their dog, which they were unable to return and save, was gone.
His leash had been cut, but they have no idea whether he is still
alive. They now live in a small apartment in Aizu, far from their
home, and Ms Oga's dream to live and farm in the countryside is gone
A mother of three, Akiyo Suzuki and her family evacuated to Hokkaido for a month following the 11 March triple disaster. The family lives in Watari, a district in Fukushima City. When the nuclear disaster occurred she found it hard to find clear information about the dangers from the accident, and discovered great differences on the internet compared with newspapers and television.
"I was already in the habit of buying things that hadn't been exposed to pesticides, and now I try to buy things without radiation - but it's not always written on the package," says Mrs Suzuki.
Now her family is split up. Most of the family remains in Fukushima City so that her son can finish his last year of school, while she and her husband can go back to work. Her 13-year-old daughter, however, decided to transfer schools, to stay in Hokkaido with relatives. It is a long and expensive trip to see one another, and Mrs Suzuki doesn't expect to see her daughter again until the spring.
While she'd prefer that her 165 young pupils were moved away from the radiation, Ms Tanji continues to run her school in Minami Fukushima as best she can under the circumstances. Like many other areas in Fukushima City, her school was too contaminated for it to be safe for children, but following a community decontamination effort she has been able to keep operating.
Recently, the government finally sent the school a poster with advice for children on how to play safely outdoors. The children are advised to avoid water in gutters or on grass, and happy children on the poster explain how they dust themselves off to make sure contamination doesn't come inside. Ms Tanji was not surprised that this is all the help and information the government has provided.
Ms Satsuki Ikeda's family has been living in Iitate for nine generations. She ran a farm together with her sons before being evacuated to Fukushima City. Stuck in a relief centre, she could not sleep due to the noise, and was devastated for the loss of her village, her work, and the feeling of growing and preparing her own food.
She sometimes goes back for a day or so, to check and maintain her house, and although the Iitate community has been scattered around several cities they try to meet every two months to talk about the problems they face and how to organise the religious festivals that still play an important role in village life.
Iitoi Elementary School in the village of Iitate has been empty since the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Located between beautiful green mountains, Iitate village is more than 40km away from the nuclear plant. Although it is outside the 20km exclusion zone it is dangerously contaminated. Most of the people from here and surrounding villages have left. Only the elderly and those who cannot abandon their businesses remain.
Radiation levels 3-13 microsieverts an hour / 38 to 160 times above normal. The normal rate before the Fukushima nuclear disaster was 0.08 microsieverts an hour.
Streets, houses and businesses sit empty in southeastern Kawamata, where radioactive contamination has forced residents to evacuate. As with other towns in the area, only a handful of residents remain; their friends, family and the wider community have been evacuated to safer parts of Fukushima City, Yonezawa or Nihonmatsu.
Radiation levels 1.73 microsieverts an hour / 22 times above normal. The normal rate before the Fukushima nuclear disaster was 0.08 microsieverts an hour
Traffic lights and street lanterns light the 114 road as it curves off towards the exclusion zone at Tsushima, a village nestled between mountains in a beautiful green valley in the district of Namie.
After the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, winds blew radioactive contamination directly towards Namie for three days, exposing its citizens to high levels of radiation. No one was warned. Thousands of the village's inhabitants have now been evacuated and are living in temporary homes in Nihonmatsu. Whether they will be able to return to their villages remains an open question.
Radiation levels 8-13 microsieverts an hour / 52 to 238 times above normal. The normal rate before the Fukushima nuclear disaster was 0.08 microsieverts an hour.
Tsushima lies close to the 20km exclusion zone surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Despite being outside the zone it is heavily contaminated, as winds blew radioactive fallout from the triple meltdown in its direction for three days.
Citizens were exposed to high levels of radiation. Although the authorities had information showing this would happen, no one was warned. Thousands of the village's inhabitants have now been evacuated and are living in temporary homes in Nihonmatsu. Whether they will be able to return to their villages remains an open question.
Radiation levels 2.3 - 3.0 microsieverts an hour / 28 to 38 times above normal. The normal rate before the Fukushima nuclear disaster was 0.08 microsieverts an hour.
As autumn approaches, leaves turn red and gold in a forest near Tsushima Village, in the district of Namie. The village lies outside the exclusion zone surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, but nonetheless it is still heavily contaminated. The local people have been evacuated to temporary homes in Nihonmatsu, but the level of contamination means they may never be able to return in their lifetimes.
Radiation levels 5.0 microsieverts an hour / 62 times above normal. The normal rate before the Fukushima nuclear disaster was 0.08 microsieverts an hour.
A car sits abandoned on the side of the road in Tsushima Village, Namie district. Evacuees are not able to afford parking space in their places of refuge, so many cars were left behind to become part of the contaminated landscape.
Radiation levels 8.9 microsieverts an hour / 110 times above normal. The normal rate before the Fukushima nuclear disaster was 0.08 microsieverts an hour.
Once carefully sculpted, overgrown trees and plants line a private garden in Tsushima village, Namie district, the gardener having long since evacuated with the rest of the village residents.
Radiation levels 10.0 microsieverts an hour / 125 times above normal. The normal rate before the Fukushima nuclear disaster was 0.08 microsieverts an hour.
A seemingly idyllic rural scene, this field near Tsushima is far too contaminated to walk on. Like many other parts of the nearby village, contamination from the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has irradiated the environment to such an extent it is unclear whether residents will ever be able to return.
Radiation levels 4.8 microsieverts an hour / 60 times above normal. The normal rate before the Fukushima nuclear disaster was 0.08 microsieverts an hour.
This abandoned farm sits on the 399 provincial road that meanders through rolling green mountains, on the edge of the 20km exclusion zone surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Following the triple meltdown, levels of radiation along the road were very high, leading to the abandonment of houses and farms as evacuees moved to safer locations in Fukushima City and Nihonmatsu. Residents may never be able to return.
Radiation levels 10-13 microsievert an hour / 125 to 162 times above normal. The normal rate before the Fukushima nuclear disaster was 0.08 microsieverts an hour.