Who is the man living in Fukushima evacuation zone?


Max Hodges of White Rabbit Express says:

About two months after 3/11 I started working on this long-term documentary photography story. I took my bicycle up to Fukushima and entered the 20 kilometer evacuation zone in order to document the fate of the many abandoned livestock and pet dogs and cats.

While working, alone in the exclusion zone, I came across a man, Shoji Kobayashi, who had been living alone in a town just 15 kilometers from the Daiichi reactor where everyone had evacuated. Kobayshi became the central subject of my story.

Inside the Fukushima Evacuation Zone, Part I: Shoji Kobayashi



    1. > Seeing him smoke made me laugh for some reason.

      How about reading about him growing his own vegetables in his garden, 15km from the plant. And the photographer ate them, too.

  1. You get that in the Chernobyl Zone too – apparently even now there’s a very small human population of old people who couldn’t bear to move, as well as refugees from Chechnya.

  2. He’s probably going on living there because it is his home.

    On television here the other night they showed a couple being allowed back in wearing protective clothing in order to gather some of their old cherished belongings. The mother began to cry and take off her protective helmet. She wept, “I’m staying here, I don’t care. This is my home.” The husband slapped her and said, “face reality, it’s over, we have to leave!” She continued weeping. “You’re right, we have to go.” 

    These people have lost everything they have ever known. Many of them just want to go back and feed the animals they were raising or turn them loose so they have a chance for survival. If you’ve ever spent any time on a farm or with animals you can imagine how heartwrenching this truly is. Try to imagine that Fukushima was your home town. Imagine being FORCED to evacuate by the same authorities who act as the arms of the irresponsible government that allowed this tragedy to happen in the first place. Imagine living quietly and patiently in a gymnasium as snarky politicians crack jokes on television and offer meaningless apologies via expendable scapegoats. 

    My heart breaks for Mr. Kobayshi and the rest of the Fukushima victims. On the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima while we watch another nuclear disaster unfold on this archipelago, I have a roof over my head and food to eat in west Japan tonight… good fortune that I hope I never take for granted.

  3. There was a HUGE spill in the USSR (decades before ‘nobyl’, don’t remember which one, only that millions of curies were deposited along a river); many people were moved out but a small town of about a hundred was left alone. While many of them developed serious diseases, many lived to old age. Risk is proportional to exposure, and older people can outlive the risk. The government could consider being less paternalistic towards people this man’s age.

    1. yeah that was a famous chemical spill. Andrei Tarkovski shot a film in that area called STALKER which to this day many people believe was about Chernobyl, which happened many years after the movie.

  4. I commend Kobayashi-san, and Max, for their courage. This type of photojournalism is so different, and more touching/powerful, than much of the mainstream articles I’ve encountered about Japan since the tsunami. I was also impressed with how well photojournalism such as this works with Google’s design of Google Plus (i.e., color scheme, comment section (scrolled independent of photos) to right side of photos &c). Thanks, Mark.

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