The Fukushima Exclusion Zone and its Exhabitants In addition to profuse signs of contamination danger, the authorities have deployed transparent plastic barriers to mark the border in some areas.
Documentary filmmakers Carlos Ayesta and Guillaume Bression - Venezuelan and French living in Japan - have traveled to the exclusion zone regularly since 2011 and launched the Fukushima online project, No Go Zone, where they have recorded an audiovisual survey of the consequences human and environmental crisis.
"The accident is far from over, both at the plant and among the nuclear refugees," they say.
The restless photographers show in the book Retracing Our Steps - Fukushima Exclusion Zone 2011 - 2016 (Returning on our steps - The Fukushima Exclusion Zone, 2011-2016) an anthology of the visits and an inventory of the encounters they have had with the evacuees, people expelled from their places of residence after the catastrophe.
They show what remains of a region evacuated from one day to the next: untouched landscapes where there are no rubble, ruins or remnants of a tangible disaster, but a desolate feeling.
"The normal and the strange intermingle in these almost surreal but plausible photographs," they say from the publishing house.
As if nothing had happened
Carlos Ayesta and Guillaume Bression wanted to relive the emotions of the former residents if they returned to their old homes, schools or to the supermarkets where they shopped daily.
With the acquiescence of those who accepted the return to take the photos, they took people from the area to those locations and invited them to pose as if nothing had happened.
The images are shocking: a woman poses with a shopping cart in a supermarket where food packages are still on the shelves; a teenager listens to music in the store where he bought records; an office worker pretends to answer a phone in his old workplace… They all look like wax statues with vacant and disbelieving looks in places where time has stood still.
“My husband and I had a hairdressing salon in Tomioka, ten kilometers from the plant, until we had to evacuate. Every time I come back here, I have the strange feeling that someone has come in and moved something, ”says Keiko Morimatsu.
“I'm used to it, but at first I couldn't even stay here for an hour in my old printing house,” adds Shigeko Watanabe. "I thought I could go back to live again, but all my neighbors bought houses in other places and no one plans to return (...) This area is a piece of nothing and no one would worry if it disappeared."
The photographers also show the hundreds of thousands of black plastic bags that, stacked, contain the 25 million cubic meters of possibly contaminated materials and soil, and the unstoppable advance of plants and nature that cover cars and buildings.
Photos Carlos Ayesta
The Epoch Times