In the year 2011, a huge earthquake and 30-foot (9m) tsunami devastated the Tohoku (東北) region of Japan, making international headlines as one of the worst natural disasters of the 21st century. One of the affected areas includes Fukushima Prefecture (福島県), wherein a nuclear reactor exploded due to the damage brought about by the natural phenomenon.
This crippled the whole region, resulting in the evacuation of the residents, many of whom had lived there their entire lives. People are now determined to forget the past and move forward to a brighter horizon. They are now trying to let the world know that they are now back in business and ready to welcome tourists with open arms.
The 9.2 magnitude earthquake, which took place in Japan on March 11, 2011, caused a huge tsunami which affected the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (福島第一原子力発電所). The plant suffered a level 7 nuclear meltdown, which is the highest on the international scale for nuclear incidents. The scale was intended to let the public know the seriousness of the nuclear event.
The radioactive waste released had a widespread impact on the environment and public health, so it was mandatory to evacuate the whole area, especially parts which had high levels of radiation. Because of this, businesses were halted. Residents were given dosimeters to determine the exact level of radiation to which they were exposed. Though only a few of the citizens were affected by the radiation, many residents fled out from the city.
The soil located on the east and north-east part of the plant was contaminated the most, which limited the farming activities. There is even a detailed map of the area’s ground contamination which revealed the level of radioactive cesium amounts. Many of the residents feel that their health deteriorated as well the health of their families. Some experienced lack of sleep and others started to smoke and drink a lot more often as a coping mechanism. These things gravely affected the harmony in Fukushima.
Nobody knew that Fukushima could rise up again from the devastating event, but the people were strong and got back on their feet, determined to move forward. The locals continued to be friendly as before, refusing to let the disasters define them.
Some of the businesses which are back on track include Iwaki Wonder Farm (いわきワンダーファーム), Spa Resort Hawaiians (スパリゾートハワイアンズ), Aquamarine Fukushima (アクアマリンふくしま) and Iwaki La La Mew (いわきららミュウ). To support Fukushima’s recovery, why not visit one or more of these places? Let’s learn more about them.
Iwaki Wonder Farm is an integrated agricultural theme park which specializes in the cultivation of tomatoes. This is funded by the city and prefectural governments as well as Japan Rail East (JR東日本). The tomatoes cultivated in the farm are distributed to the hotels associated with Japan Rail. Visiting the place will give you the opportunity to taste fresh, local tomatoes.
There are a number of facilities as well, such as BBQ areas and stores which help in revitalizing the place. You can also enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet meal at the “Forest Kitchen” (森のキッチン). It serves fresh dishes from juice, jams, dressings to pizzas, curries and much more.
You can also enjoy tomato-picking every weekend, which is a fun activity, and go home with sweet and fruity tomato-flavored ice cream. The farm also holds speed dating events for young locals on special nights. It starts with a dinner followed by a tour of the greenhouse where they can go tomato-picking and flirting!
Another is Spa Resort Hawaiians, which is Iwaki’s most popular tourist destination. This is a unique pool theme park which started in 1966.
It made the Japanese fascination of Hawaii a dream come true. It offers water parks and spring parks which have a great resemblance to Hawaii. This is the place to go if you’d like to feel the Hawaiian atmosphere without ever leaving the country.
The resort has different hotels (Monolith Tower, Hotel Hawaiians and ViR Port) and an enormous indoor water park that is kept at an average temperature of 28 degrees Celsius. Adults can enjoy the pool with its giant water slide.
You can also watch an authentic Polynesian dance show which is teeming with energy and exhilaration. The Hula girls only take the stage after completing intensive dance training at Joban Music and Dance Institute. There’s also a fire and knife dance presented by dynamic male performers.
Hotel Hawaiians boasts a beautiful Japanese outdoor onsen (温泉; hot spring), which is constantly replenished from the waters of Yumoto Hot Spring (湯本温泉; one of Japan’s oldest natural hot springs). It has been awarded before as the biggest open-air bath in the Guinness World Records, roughly measuring 1,000 square meters. The tubs for men and women are separated.
If you’d like to see how well Fukushima has been rebuilt over the years since the disaster, you should visit Aquamarine Fukushima. This aquarium was built in 2000 and is really enormous.
It suffered extensive damage during the earthquake, but it is now operating again after being fully restored, thanks to the donations received from people in Japan and overseas. The aquarium is not only an entertainment destination but also serves to monitor the radiation level in their fish as well as the surrounding sea water.
Lastly is Iwaki La La Mew. This is an ocean and fish theme park which is a great place to stop for lunch and go souvenir shopping. It opened in 1997 and is roughly located fifty kilometers from the nuclear power plant.
Aside from this, there is also a fish market which sells fresh fish. The facility is clean, modern and quite large. Parents with children can entertain their kids with the indoor play area consisting of climbing equipment, toys and the like. You can also see a chilling reminder of how the building looked like during the disaster through photographs on display.
Since the terrible event in 2011, the region has come a long way to help rebuild the whole place. The local people have put a lot of effort, time and money in the hope of helping tourists come to visit once again. The locals are looking forward to a brighter future ahead. Let’s help rebuild this beautiful place by visiting Fukushima!