Photographers Capture Fukushima’s Former Residents Returning Home To Ghost Town
French photographers Carlos Ayesta and Guillaume Bression asked some of the 80,000 nuclear refugees forced to evacuate areas near Fukushima to return to the places they once knew. What they found was a world that had become unrecognizable, but also stories that had become a big part of them. “We asked former residents or inhabitants from the Fukushima region, and in some cases, the actual owners of certain properties, to join us inside the no-go zone and open the doors to these ordinary, but now unfriendly, places,” says the artists’ statement. “Facing the camera, they were asked to act as normally as possible – as if nothing had happened.”
“Midori Ito is in an abandoned supermarket in Namie. Here, nothing has changed since the disaster. On a panel, you can even read the words “Fresh produce” in Japanese. Just after the disaster, Midori Ito evacuated to Minami Aizu because of health risks associated with radioactivity.
“Rieko Matsumotoest is in a laundry Namie. She is a nutritionist and counselor. “The day of the earthquake, I was working with a Philippine client who was there for his first time. I was ready to measure parts of her body, and she was about to take off her clothes when the ground started shaking. She spoke to me in Japanese up until that very moment, but when it hit, she suddenly started shouting in English.”