Written by By Staff Writer
Written by Staff Writer
Kiko Mizuhara, CNN
Wooden palaces, a winding cobblestone walkway and terraced fields of grapes: this is the tranquil forest surrounding the huge Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.
“Before, people thought the forest was a big danger,” says Ryota Kamide, a local farmer who lives only a 10-minute walk from the plant.
“But if you look carefully, there’s no radiation here and there’s a forest nearby, so people think the forest is safe.”
Kamide lives in Emorote, the northeastern village just across the coastline from the plant. Although the area has been evacuated in the early days after the quake and tsunami, residents still receive mail from the plant’s security office — which has an enclosed internal door and an outside gate.
When he was asked by CNN to identify the inside location of his home, Kamide admitted it was “around 20 meters” from the gate.
“I check there is no radiation when I check all our mail,” he says. “They are guarding the area, so you feel as though you can’t get in.”
Fukushima, where six people were killed and nearly 4,000 injured in the disaster, now serves as a medical mission. Doctors and nurses from around the world are now providing a wide range of healthcare services to hundreds of thousands of evacuees.
Despite all the dangers around the power plant, the wind is blowing west, so crops are growing, trees are regrowing and birds are visiting their nests.
Shirley Anderson, a nuclear medicine specialist, and Jeannette Catcher, who is heading the local psychosocial committee, have to make their living with little income from the disaster area.
“But everything seems to be fine in Emorote,” Anderson says. “The school now is open, people can see trees growing and nearby farms are producing fruits. The rest of the village is just as normal as it can be.”
Kamide says people in the village have welcomed him back in his peace.
“This place is beautiful, we’re happy and everyone is becoming more and more optimistic,” he says. “People don’t want to be evacuated anymore. It is so nice to be back here.”
“They all used to think we were going to be relocated to the exclusion zone, or that we would never return to this little place.”