Eerie images inside Fukushima’s exclusion zone five years after the nuclear disaster

Malaysian-born Loong said: 'The residents of these three towns in the red exclusion zone left so quickly they didn't even pack or take anything valuable with them' 

Daily Mail UK:

More than five years after the devastating tsunami and the 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck north-eastern Japan, causing the explosion of the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, the Japanese town remains abandoned.

Since April 22, 2011, an area within 20km (12.4miles) radius of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant has been cordoned off from the public and listed as the red exclusion zone.

But now, Malaysian photographer Keow Wee Loong has entered into the exclusion zone to capture these eerie images.

Malaysian-born Loong said: ‘The residents of these three towns in the red exclusion zone left so quickly they didn’t even pack or take anything valuable with them

 Wearing a gas mask but no other protective clothing, Loong, 27, visited four of the evacuated towns in Fukushima

Wearing a gas mask but no other protective clothing, Loong, 27, visited four of the evacuated towns in Fukushima

There was also an empty DVD shop, full of discs dating back to 2011 - a reminder of the 150,000 people were forced to leave There was also an empty DVD shop, full of discs dating back to 2011 – a reminder of the 150,000 people were forced to leave.

Among the locations Loong explored during his time inside Fukushima, there was an empty supermarket full of merchandise dating back to 2011

The urban explorers wore masks as they entered abandoned houses, like this one in Futaba, that's untouched since the disaster in 2011
The urban explorers wore masks as they entered abandoned houses, like this one in Futaba, that’s untouched since the disaster in 2011

Clean laundry left half in washing machines show the panic that followed the disaster
 Clean laundry left half in washing machines show the panic that followed the disaster and there were plenty of valuables left untouched.
Loong explored various shops where valuables were left untouched

Wearing a gas mask but no other protective clothing, Loong, 27, visited four of the evacuated towns in Fukushima – Tomioka, Okuma, Namie and Futaba – in June this year with friends Sherena Ng and Koji Hori.

They were evacuated after the disaster on March 11, 2011, when a 50ft wave swamped the sea wall at the nuclear power plant, sparking equipment failures and allowing radioactive materials to escape.

It was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl and the towns have been completely untouched by humanity since then.

Loong’s images give an eerie insight into the panic that followed the disaster and show a city stuck in time as calendars remain on the same date, families’ clean washing is partially-removed from dryers and newspapers forever remain unsold.

Malaysian-born Loong said: ‘The residents of these three towns in the red exclusion zone left so quickly they didn’t even pack or take anything valuable with them.

‘If you visit any boutique or shopping mall in these towns, you will see the merchandise exactly where it was since 2011, nothing has been changed or moved.’

For urban explorer Loong, the abandoned sites were most disturbing as traffic lights were still working but there were no cars on the roads
The city of Fukushima was evacuated suddenly after the east coast of Japan was devastated by a massive earthquake followed by a huge tsunami
The packaged goods left on the shelf

The urban explorers entered the so-called ‘red zone’ – the site of maximum radiation – in the middle of the night to avoid being caught by the police.

Among the locations Loong explored during his time there was an empty shopping centre with shops full of merchandise, including newspapers and magazines, dating back to 2011

Among the locations Loong explored during his time there was an empty shopping centre with shops full of merchandise, including newspapers and magazines, dating back to 2011

Loong added: ‘I even found money laying around the pachinko parlour, books dating back to 2011, gold and other valuables all still in place.

Due to the high level of radiation, the adventurers only had a limited amount of time to explore all four towns and had to wear gas masks to protect themselves from the contaminated air.

Loong explained: ‘The radiation level in the red zone could go as high as 4.8mSv – 6.5 mSv according to the reading on the electronic signboard on the road.

‘Upon arrival in the red zone, I could smell chemicals and felt a burning sensation in my eyes.’

The urban explorers entered the so-called ‘red zone’ – the site of maximum radiation – in the middle of the night to avoid being caught by the police.

He said: ‘Due to the high level of radiation, the town was filled with police so we had a limited amount of time to explore everything in all four towns. We entered the red exclusion zone in the dark around 1am, to avoid attention from the cops.’

Due to the high level of radiation, the adventurers only had a limited amount of time to explore all four towns and had to wear gas masks to protect themselves from the contaminated air 

Due to the high level of radiation, the adventurers only had a limited amount of time to explore all four towns and had to wear gas masks to protect themselves from the contaminated air.

Loong visited four towns - Tomioka, Okuma, Namie and Futaba - in June this year with friends Sherena Ng and Koji Hori 

Loong said: 'When I walked into the mall I felt an eerie silence, like time had frozen. The mall was completely empty with no people in it but all the merchandise in place and I could explore anywhere I wanted'

Loong said: ‘When I walked into the mall I felt an eerie silence, like time had frozen. The mall was completely empty with no people in it but all the merchandise in place and I could explore anywhere I wanted’

The urban explorers walked along an abandoned train station in Futaba, Fukushima, which was eerily devoid of life

The urban explorers walked along an abandoned train station in Futaba, Fukushima, which was eerily devoid of life. Among the locations Loong explored during his time there was an empty shopping centre with outlets full of merchandise dating back to 2011 – a reminder of the 150,000 people that were forced to leave the area following the disaster.

He said: ‘When I walked into the mall I felt an eerie silence, like time had frozen. The mall was completely empty with no people in it but all the merchandise in place and I could explore anywhere I wanted.

‘I always had a childhood dream of going into a mall alone when it is empty, so my dream came true, it was like deja vu, everything is exactly the way it is since 2011, the books marked with 2011, DVD movies of 2011.

‘This was one of the creepiest things I have ever seen, I have been to many places, but nothing like Fukushima, the traffic lights are still operating but there are no cars around.

‘It all reminded me of the movie I Am Legend, like stepping foot into a post-apocalyptic city.

The Last Farmer in Fukushima’s Post-Nuclear Wasteland: VICE INTL (Japan)

VICE: 

Two years since the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant went into full meltdown, and the resulting 20km evacuation zone was enforced, one farmer still remains behind braving high levels of radiation and loneliness to tend to abandoned animals.

His name is Naoto Matsumura, and he is the last man standing in the ghost town of Tomioka. Another farmer, Kenji Hasegawa‘s town of Iidate was also evacuated due to high levels of radiation, he sought refuge in temporary housing. Faced with a post­nuclear world both these men share brutally honest views on the state of their lives, TEPCO, government inaction and some of the hardest situations they have had to face in the midst of overwhelming radioactivity.

Tohoku University develops flying drone and crawling robot to measure radiation levels in Fukushima nuclear plant

Tohoku University develops flying robot to measure radiation levels
House of Japan:
A research team at Tohoku University has developed a robot capable of being sent aloft and surveying radiation levels inside the reactor building of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The propeller-driven device, unveiled March 12, will be carried on a rolling robot, which can move through debris-filled areas. Both can be dispatched into highly radioactive areas where plant workers cannot enter.

Designed for use inside the Fukushima plant reactor buildings, the flying robot, weighing 2.6 kilograms, can withstand deadly radiation levels as high as 10 sieverts per hour.

The crawler robot it sits atop weighs 75 kg. Rolling on belts looped over the wheels, the robot can crawl around debris and up stairs. It is controlled remotely using a 250-meter cable.

The project was commissioned by the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy at a cost of 180 million yen ($1.5 million).

Studio Gainax confirms plans for anime production studio and museum in Fukushima

2

RocketNews 24:

GAINAX, the animation powerhouse which has spawned massive hits such as Neon Genesis Evangelion, Nadia:The Secret of Blue Water, Kare KanoFLCL, and Gurren Lagann among others, has confirmed plans to open a studio and in-house museum in the town of Miharu, Fukushima. Specifically, the company will move into a refurbished school building that was closed two years ago.

Keep reading after the jump to find out what motivated this latest development!

Founded in 1984, Gainax‘s current corporate headquarters are located in Tokyo’s Koganei City (the same place as Studio Ghibli’s headquarters). The company is well-known both domestically and internationally for its line of often avant-garde hits, and its name is often taken as synonymous with Evangelion, the legendary 1995 TV anime series directed by studio co-founder Hideaki Anno.

Gainax’s current corporate headquarters in Koganei, Tokyo

3

The latest news reports from Gainax state that the company plans to open a new regional animation and video game production studio in the town of Miharu, Fukushima (a bit east of the major city of Koriyama), which will supposedly be up and running by this April. In addition to the production studio, the location will also house a small museum dedicated to famous characters born from Gainax, as well as hosting lectures relating to anime production that will be open to the general public.

 ▼The location of Miharu (in red) in the Tamura District of Fukushima. Miharu is known for its over 1,000-year-old “waterfall cherry tree.”1

The site of the new production studio will be the former building of Miharu’s Sakura Junior High School, which was one of three local schools incorporated into a larger city junior high school in 2013.

According to Gainax, this new undertaking is being done in an effort to counteract the financial damage caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and nuclear incident of March 2011. The administration hopes that the presence of a new studio will also bring tourists back to the region and dispel some of the negative publicity surrounding Fukushima ever since the 2011 disasters. Perhaps their mission can best be summed up in the following quote: “Now, we want to express stories to the next generation that can only be made in this time, in this place [Fukushima].”

While there’s no word yet on any new projects that will be produced at the Fukushima location, we’ll be sure to keep you in the loop if we hear anything!

National Geographic: Solar panels floating on water will power Japan’s homes

Picture of a similar floating solar plant

Floating solar arrays take advantage of open water where land space is constrained.

National Geographic (by Bryan Lufkin):

Nowadays, bodies of water aren’t necessarily something to build around—they’re something to build on. They sport not just landfills and man-made beaches but also, in a nascent global trend, massive solar power plants.

Clean energy companies are turning to lakes, wetlands, ponds, and canals as building grounds for sunlight-slurping photovoltaic panels. So far, floating solar structures have been announced in, among other countries, the United Kingdom, Australia, India, and Italy.

The biggest floating plant, in terms of output, will soon be placed atop the reservoir of Japan‘s Yamakura Dam in Chiba prefecture, just east of Tokyo. When completed in March 2016, it will cover 180,000 square meters, hold 50,000 photovoltaic solar panels, and power nearly 5,000 households. It will also offset nearly 8,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. (Since the EPA estimates a typical car releases 4.7 tons of CO2 annually, that’s about 1,700 cars’ worth of emissions.)

The Yamakura Dam project is a collaboration by Kyocera (a Kyoto-headquartered electronics manufacturer), Ciel et Terre (a French company that designs, finances, and operates photovoltaic installations), and Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation.

So, why build solar panels on water instead of just building them on land? Placing the panels on a lake or reservoir frees up surrounding land for agricultural use, conservation, or other development. With these benefits, though, come challenges.

Solar Enters New Territory

Overall, this is a very interesting idea. If successful, it will bring a huge impact,” says Yang Yang, a professor of engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles who specializes in photovoltaic solar panels. “However, I do have concerns of its safety against storms and other natural disasters, not to mention corrosion.”

Unlike a solar installation on the ground or mounted on a rooftop, floating solar energy plants present relatively new difficulties. For one thing, everything needs to be waterproofed, including the panels and wiring. Plus, a giant, artificial contraption can’t just be dropped into a local water supply without certain precautions, such as adherence to regulations on water quality—a relevant concern, particularly if the structure starts to weather away.

That is one reason we chose Ciel et Terre’s floating platforms, which are 100 percent recyclable and made of high-density polyethylene that can withstand ultraviolet rays and corrosion,” says Ichiro Ikeda, general manager of Kyocera’s solar energy marketing division.

Another obstacle? Japan’s omnipresent threat of natural disasters. In addition to typhoons, the country is a global hot spot for earthquakes, landslides, and tidal waves.

Aerial view of the Yamakura Dam

The planned floating solar array for Japan would sit atop the Yamakura Dam, east of Tokyo.

To make sure the platforms could withstand the whims of Mother Nature, Ciel et Terre’s research and development team brought in the big guns: a wind tunnel at Onera, the French aerospace lab. The company’s patented Hydrelio system—those polyethylene “frames” that cradle the solar panels—was subjected to very high wind conditions that matched hurricane speeds. The system resisted winds of up to 118 miles per hour.

Why Japan Could Be the Perfect Spot

Given its weather, why build floating solar panels in the storm-filled, Ring of Fire-hugging Land of the Rising Sun? The reason: Many nations could benefit from floating solar power. And Japan is their poster child.

The largely mountainous archipelago of Japan suffers from a lack of usable land, meaning there’s less room for anything to be built, let alone a large-scale solar plant. However, the nation is rich in reservoirs, since it has a sprawling rice industry to irrigate, so more solar energy companies in Japan are favoring liquid over land for construction sites. Suddenly, inaccessible terrain becomes accessible.

Kyocera’s Ikeda says available land in Japan is especially hard to come by these days, as the number of ground-based solar plants in the country has skyrocketed in the past few years.

But, he added, “the country has many reservoirs for agricultural and flood-control purposes. There is great potential in carrying out solar power generation on these water surfaces.”

In Japan’s case, Ciel et Terre says that the region’s frequent seismic fits aren’t cause for concern, either. In fact, they illustrate another benefit that floating solar panels have over their terrestrial counterparts, the company says.

Earthquakes have no impacts on the floating photovoltaic system, which has no foundation and an adequate anchoring system that ensures its stability,” says Eva Pauly, international business manager at Ciel et Terre. “That’s a big advantage in a country like Japan.”

Solar’s Potential Ecological Impact

Floating solar panel manufacturers hope their creations replace more controversial energy sources.

Japan needs new, independent, renewable energy sources after the Fukushima disaster,” says Pauly. “The country needs more independent sources of electricity after shutting down the nuclear power and relying heavily on imported liquid gas.”

This up-and-coming aquatic alternative impacts organisms living in the water, though. The structure stymies sunlight penetration, slowly making the water cooler and darker. This can halt algae growth, for example, which Ciel et Terre project manager Lise Mesnager says “could be either positive or negative.” If there’s too much algae in the water, the shadow-casting floating panels might be beneficial; if the water harbors endangered species, they could harm them.

It is really important for the operator to have a good idea of what kind of species can be found in the water body,” Mesnager says.

Since companies must follow local environmental rules, these solar plants are usually in the center of the water, away from banks rich with flora and fauna. Plus, companies might prefer building in man-made reservoirs instead of natural ones, as the chances of harming the area’s biodiversity are smaller.

Could the Future Include Salt Water?

More than three-quarters of our planet is ocean, which might present alternative energy companies a blank canvas on which to dot more buoyant energy farms. But moving floating panels to the open sea is still in the future. Kyocera’s Ikeda says it would bring up a whole new realm of issues, from waves to changing water levels, which could lead to damage and disrupted operations.

Ciel et Terre is experimenting with salt water-friendly systems in Thailand, but ocean-based plants might be impractical, as offshore installations are costly, and it’s more logical to produce electricity closer to where it’ll be used.

For now, companies are aiming to build floating energy sources that conserve limited space, are cheaper than solar panels on terra firma, and are, above all, efficient. Ciel et Terre says that since its frames keep Kyocera’s solar panels cool, the floating plant could generate up to 20 percent more energy than a typical ground system does.

The Yamakura Dam project might be the world’s biggest floating solar plant, but it wasn’t the first-and it almost certainly won’t be the last.

 

First nuclear power plant set to restart in Japan after 2011 meltdown

Sendai_NPP_-2

RocketNews 24:

 

Against much public backlash, two reactors at a nuclear power plant in Sendai are scheduled to be restarted. These will be the first to restart operations after all the country’s nuclear plants were shut down indefinitely following the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011.

The Sendai Nuclear Power Plant operated by Kyushu Electric Power is set to be the first of Japan’s inactive nuclear power plants to restart after the local assembly overwhelmingly voted in favor of it being put back into action.

After the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami which resulted in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster,  all 48 of Japan’s nuclear plants were shut down indefinitely. Prime Minister Abe’s government has been pushing to bring Japan’s nuclear power generators back online on the grounds that importing fossil fuels to make up for the 30 percent of power that was previously nuclear-generated is having a detrimental effect on the Japanese economy. However, the final say on restarting has been left to local authorities. Satsumasendai, the city where the plant is located, had already voted in favour of restarting the plant and a vote on Friday also resulted in 38 out of 47 of Kagoshima’s prefectural assembly backing the restart.

The governor of Kagoshima Prefecture, Yuichiro Ito, also endorsed the restart, telling press, “I have decided that it is unavoidable to restart the No. 1 and No. 2 Sendai nuclear reactors. I have said that assuring safety is a prerequisite and that the government must ensure safety and publicly explain it thoroughly to residents.

While the plant’s restart has been officially approved, due to further regulatory and safety checks it is predicted that it will not be operational until sometime next year.

Link

Use your passport to get free Wi-Fi across Japan

 

Ipdt9kkady
Mashable/Adario Strange:

 

Although Japan is renowned for having some of the best customer service on the planet, for various reasons, including language and cultural hurdles, it isn’t known as the most tourist-friendly destination.

Some of those hurdles also extend into the tech arena, namely, Wi-Fi. Although sidling up to a café in Europe or North America and grabbing a bit of free Wi-Fi for your mobile device is common, finding such wireless access in tech-centric Japan’s major cities remains notoriously difficult. But that’s about to change.

A new program launched by NTT (Japan’s largest telecom), is designed to serve foreign tourists on the hunt for Wi-Fi. For those who haven’t traveled to Japan, the program might seem behind the times, but for anyone familiar with attempting to find Wi-Fi in Japan, this is huge news.

Now, when a traveler arrives at a Japanese airport, they can present their passport and register for a Wi-Fi card that offers free Wi-Fi coverage via 45,000 hot spots in the eastern Japan area including Tokyo, Hakone, Mt. Fuji, Yokohama, Nagano, Nikko, Kusatsu, Tohoku, Hokkaido and Fukushima.

 

Wi-Fi Japan

 

Additionally, a traveler outside of the country preparing to visit Japan can download the iOS or Android version of the NAVITIME for Japan Travel app and obtain an ID and password beforehand. The app also offers an augmented reality mode that shows you a Street View-style image of the location where an available Wi-Fi hotspot is located.

However, the access only lasts for 14 days (or 336 hours), just enough to get you used to the free access, but not long enough to be truly useful for anyone planning an extended stay in Japan.

According to the Nikkei, the program is also being directed by the Japanese government, which plans to use the initiative to get more buildings in the country to offer Wi-Fi access.

The trial program, which began earlier this year, will last until September 2014.

 

Check out this link:

 

Use your passport to get free Wi-Fi across Japan

Video

Pharrell Williams – HAPPY (Fukushima, Japan) #happyfukushima

Fukushima is also happy !!
Many people might think that Fukushima has been unhappy after 311. But it’s not true.
With this video I want you to know that we are also happy and healthy just like you. Please enjoy our dance and share our happiness !”

Video

Fukushima 360º (trailer)

How is daily life in Fukushima today? The German environmental journalist and free lancer Alexander Neureuter spent three weeks in Japan to accompany 44 different people in the Fukushima area to understand and document, how the nuclear disaster three years ago has impacted and changed their lives, hopes and dreams.

Video

Present day Fukushima/Tomioka filmed using flying drones

More than three years have passed since the catastrophic Tohoku earthquake, and although many are still struggling to rebuild their lives due to the damage left by the tsunami, there are still areas that remain uninhabitable.

Take the town of Tomioka for example, located in the northeast area of the island and home to the Fukushima nuclear power plant, this coastal town was once home to some 16,000 residents. Although it is estimated to be decades until radiation is brought down to an acceptable level for living, that has not stopped Tokyo-based photography company, HEXaMedia, from capturing the current state of Tomioka.

Shot with the help of aerial drones, Tomioka has become a ghost town as personal belongings are left strewn all over fields, homes are near-toppled and boats lay in the middle of roads. Through it all, however, you cannot help but admire the beautiful cherry blossoms flourishing amidst the destruction.