After one year

My family and I have now resided in the Tohoku region for over one year. We moved from Honolulu, Hawaii in 2017 knowing the rich opportunities that awaited us in Sendai and, so far, we are not disappointed. Not just the wonderful business opportunities we are taking advantage of, but also the advantages of the climate and terrain of Tohoku. 

Just this past week we spent a few days camping around Lake Tazawako; this lake is a spectacularly clear and natural lake in Akita prefecture. We met a couple and their children at the campsite who told us the trip was years in the making. They worked for an embassy in Tokyo and said the reason they waited until now to visit Tohoku was to make sure the area was safe. Safe from what?

Before we leapt across the waters to move to Tohoku, we were told by many friends Tohoku was not safe. Everyone pointed to the same, single issue-radiation from the melted reactors at Fukushima Daiachi Nuclear facility. This facility is located approximately eighty kilometers south of Sendai and is tucked into the side of a cliff facing the Pacific Ocean. 

Here is a LINK to an excellent site that will show you the history and current zones of exclusion around the nuclear plant. Here is a LINK to an article that makes the comparison between the Cherynobyl nuclear disaster and the one in Fukushima. The bottomline that concerns anyone interested in visiting this region is this: there is no risk of nuclear contamination in Tohoku. 

If you visit the two links it is clear everyone overreacted initially. Granted there was a lot of misinformation at first-causing many foreigners to flee Japan altogether-but the bad information continues to persist to this day. Not one death has occurred as a result of radiation contamination from the Fukushima melt down. Equally significant is the small exclusion zone that equaled approximately 2.9% of all of Fukushima. This is a zone of about 371 square kilometers compared to all of Tohoku which is around 67K square kilometers.

Additionally, the plant is tucked into the side of a cliff facing the Pacific. In the facility's backyard are miles and miles of rolling coastal mountains that provide a further buffer to the rest of Tohoku. Fukushima is not Chernobyl. At Chernobyl one of the reactors blew up while in operation spewing a significant amount of dangerous radiation across Europe. At Fukushima, the reactors were able to be contained, as they still are, and no significant amounts of radiation ever escaped to the wider region of Tohoku.

So why does the bad news persist? Why are people still being told not to even visit? Even the couple we met at the camp ground in Akita said they were advised to not visit Fukushima prefecture. Last year my family camped around Lake Inawashiro for a week and picked blueberries. I can report one year later we are all in excellent condition. 

My business takes me into Fukushima often and it is significant still how few foreigners are in Fukushima. Even in Sendai the vast majority of foreigners stayed away. We are aiming to change this. We at Kimira House believe Tohoku is the future of Japan. All of us live in the region and have a passion to promote a city and region we have come to love.

Come see Tohoku!

Jason Lewis