70 year old photographer Shigeyuki Takagi, who lived in Namie until he was 18, has gone back again and again to the now abandoned and desolate town. It is but a shadow of its former self, before the Fukushima nuclear meltdown forced its residents to evacuate and abandon their hometown. But he knows he has to capture these images so people will not forget and to know they can still be proud of Namie, no matter what happens to it.
Fortunately for Takagai, his 95 year old mother and his brother and sister-in-law were unhurt during the 2011 disasters, but now they, and the thousands of other residents cannot yet return to the town, due to the radiation level which may still 10 times higher than normal. Takagain, having worked before in dosimeter research and development, knows the dangers and terrors that radiation brings, and this makes him all the more angry and sad at what has befallen Namie. And it is with the hope that he takes these pictures so that the sadness of the place will not be forgotten. In June of 2012, he visited Chernobyl in Ukraine, which was the site of a catastrophic nuclear disaster in 1986. What he saw in the substitute town that was set up for local residents gave him hope that in time, Namie will be able to recover, just like what Chernobyl is still trying to do.
On April 1, the restricted zones in Namie were revised, and for the first time, residents could return temporarily. Takagai’s home is still in the heavily restricted zone so it will be some time before they could return. But if he closes his eyes, he can still vividly recall how everything looked like. But no matter how many pictures he takes, it cannot bring everything back. But, he has to still do it and let people know how proud they can still be of Namie. His first photo exhibit was held in Yotsuya, Tokyo earlier this year, and he plans to bring it to universities as well.
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