Ghost towns of Fukushima

Feature story - 26 March, 2014
Photographer Andy Fabian sent us his photos from his recent trip to Fukushima. Here is his story about the land of ghosts and nuclear disaster.

Upon my arrival in Fukushima сity it was totally unclear how and how far I would be granted the permission to reach and explore the area of 20 kilometers in the restricted zone around Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

My main idea was to make photos in the area where nobody could have access for over 2,5 years. I wanted to see what happened to nature in the lost area, whether the cleaning or decontamination procedures took place after the catastrophe.

Itate, a highly polluted region on the edge of 20 km restricted zone. A ghost town, which was not allowed to be accessed by its inhabitants for 2,5 years.

The soil is radioactively contaminated; plants absorb these substances and thus distribute them again on the surface. That is the main concern for people who packed all contaminated material into plastic bags. This bags are being stored across the region in front of many houses.

Decontamination work in the area around Itate. Radioactive soil is removed and packed in plastic bags. Seems there is no real plan what to do with this bags... Workers store everything in huge collection points.

Check-point, 6 km air line to Fukushima Daiichi. Here only those who have state approval are allowed to enter. Mainly trucks with working equipment and buses with workers pass this border and enter a heavily contaminated area.

Omote, 11 km from Fukushima nuclear power station. I met Mr Kowada sitting nearby his house. He was the only man whom I met here, inhabitant of this ghost city.

His house became available for him again after the recent opening of the restricted zone. Large banana plants were growing in the garden. The fruits were very tasty, but nobody could taste them anymore. His house was not so much destroyed, but it was full of rats.

Odaka in the south of Minamisoma - 17 km from the nuclear station. People left everything as it was after tsunami. 2,5 years later there are still traces of devastation.


The tsunami protection wall on the Pasific coast was not an obstacle for the tsunami of this magnitude. It was just washed away...

Photo: Andy Fabian ©