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Disaster to destination: Fukushima woos tourists with snow

28 Comments
By Harumi OZAWA

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28 Comments
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Tourist? All we can see those empty ski lift.

-4 ( +10 / -14 )

I can’t think of anything more stupid than people playing in snow in Fukushima or neighboring prefectures. There is a totally out of control triple nuclear reactor melt-through, spewing loads of radionuclides into the environment. When I do tests with my Geiger counter, the two worst readings come when it snows strong winds with rain.

-18 ( +11 / -29 )

I love central Fukushima! Especially the fact that other tourists stay away. More nature and open spaces for me and my rental car.

I’ve avoided the winter and snow so far. Very little public transportation and mountain roads covered in snow and ice seem like a big driving hazard. I’ll definitely be there this spring, though.

5 ( +12 / -7 )

I’m happy to hear the recovery of the unfortunate situation. Fukushima is a beautiful place to visit not only about snow but also the nature, food and culture.

“Disaster to destination” is not a nice wording.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Love going up to Fukushima - especially around the Bandai and Inawashiro-ko areas. Have previously been skiing at Bandai, and for better snow, Bandai Nekoma, but more recently it’s been warmer weather trips. In the summer you can swim in lake Inawashiro - on the northeastern side, it’s almost like a beach there. You have other places to visit like Goshiki-Numa, Ouchijuku and can stop by in Kitakata for their famous ramen. Great place to visit any time of year.

I think the above comments about radiation contamination are wide of the mark - radiation is very easy to detect for anyone with fairly cheap, and basic equipment. If the region was contaminated to a hazardous level, pretty sure we’d all know about it.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Fabulous to see foreign tourists rediscovering beautiful Fukushima - and seeing through the unfounded rumours. Great skiing, delicious sake, onsen and produce.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

I lived in Fukushima City for year back in '06-'07 and snowboarded out there in the Bandai region every Saturday and Sunday that there was snow on the ground. I hit just about all of the places over there near the lakes. There's some good terrain out there, and pretty good snow. It wasn't quite up to the Tohoku standards I'd gotten used to in the previous 3 years, but it was pretty good.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Fukushima prefecture is very large. Not all areas were contaminated.

The reactors didn't "blow up". They had nuclear fuel meltdowns from the lack of cooling water. There were hydrogen explosions inside the No1, 2&3 reactor buildings. The reactors remained intact.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

The snow arrives with weather from the north-west, the opposite direction to the wrecked nuclear plant. The snow will not be exposed to any pollution from it.

Obviously also, the snow is inland in the mountains, not the tsunami-hit towns on the coastline, so snow tourism will hardly benefit the latter. Maybe folks will fly into Sendai, that'll be about it.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I reckon Tuffy in the article has it about right. You may want to avoid certain designated localized areas, but not every inch covered by the actual name of Fukushima.

Quote:

He told AFP that the resort's location, about 100 kilometers from the coast, had helped assuage any concerns.

"You have some distance, you've got mountains and you've got range, you've got a lot of clean air and clean life over here," he said as he removed his snowboarding gear. "We are aware, but we're not concerned. It was more like understanding the situation."

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

There is another place that is beautiful during the winter and is full of wildlife year around. Do you know what it is?

Chernobyl! However, I am also not taking my chances of going there.

1 ( +10 / -9 )

Tohoku is amazing for snow sports and quite many locations to go backcountry skiing. But the language barrier is there and getting to those locations is not easy. Even accessing the ski resorts is not great and close to zero "after the slopes" activities.

They might have better luck advertising Fukushima to the locals, rather than to international travelers looking for the whole japow cultural experience.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

There is another place that is beautiful during the winter and is full of wildlife year around. Do you know what it is?

Chernobyl! However, I am also not taking my chances of going there.

Sounds sensible - the Chernobyl area is off limits for most because of precisely that reason - it is still highly contaminated with radioactive nuclides.

Most of Fukushima is not off limits to anyone, because it isn't.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

This part of Japan should be closed for 50 years. Out of sight out of mind doesn’t apply to a triple nuclear meltdown.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Tohoku is amazing for snow sports and quite many locations to go backcountry skiing. But the language barrier is there and getting to those locations is not easy. Even accessing the ski resorts is not great and close to zero "after the slopes" activities.

They might have better luck advertising Fukushima to the locals, rather than to international travelers looking for the whole japow cultural experience.

Good point - the majority of Japanese ski resorts have no "Apres ski" activities whatsoever. If you are looking for that, then you have to go to Niseko or Hakuba and that really is about it. However, not all people going on a skiing holiday are going looking to party all night after skiing - quite a few will be coming for a more "authentic" Japanese experience, or something more family oriented. As long as they make it clear about what they are offering, and also, what they don't, then I think it is still a good idea to promote themselves internationally, especially given Japan's aging population - not so many people wanting to go on ski holidays domestically!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I went to Fukushima in 2013 and I'm still fine !

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Chernobyl the reactor blew up sending nuclear fuel sky-high and across the whole of Europe all the way to Ireland. Fukushima was a reactor meltdown with high levels of radiation released but not at the level of Chornobyl. We got lucky because I think 80% of the radiation blew out to sea.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Fukushima is a big prefecture. Never been in the winter but the spring and summer months are beautiful. And yeah my family ate the fish and so far we’re fine. And for all the foreigners saying the Japanese overreacting to Covid, maybe you weren’t here 12 years ago, but it was all the foreigners fleeing Japan and overreacting because they thought the whole country would be irradiated. “Flyjin” was what they were called. Pot. Kettle. Black.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

And for all the foreigners saying the Japanese overreacting to Covid, maybe you weren’t here 12 years ago, but it was all the foreigners fleeing Japan and overreacting because they thought the whole country would be irradiated.

The reason for that was probably the difference between the way the incident was reported on international vs domestic news outlets. To say that the international news outlets took a sensationalist perspective on it all would be a huge understatement. It's hardly surprising that foreign residents who were getting most of their information from these outlets were freaked out by it all. Conversely, Japanese news did what they always do when it comes to domestic problems - play it down, take a very superficial view completely accepting and amplifying the official line. COVID was a completely different situation - throughout it has been characterized here as a foreign problem which the Japanese have managed to control better than most because of their "mindo" and willingness to comply with recommendations to wear masks and so on.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Live radiation map

http://jciv.iidj.net/map/

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Fukushima-ken never stopped being a destination for anyone with half a brain. It's the third largest prefecture in the country and has much to offer, especially during winter, all at a safe distance from the disaster that became synonymous with its name.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

However in reality Fukushima as a name isn't a popular destination and isn't likely to be again.

I think they need to rebrand and change the name. Maybe build a new capital in Aizu and change the prefecture's name to the "Capital District" or something similar. Moving the government there will also force it to pay greater attention to the clean-up activities and spur investments.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Just looking at the map that Wallace linked above - you can see that most of the tourist areas, the ski resorts and national parks are basically unaffected. The places that have high levels (Namie, Futaba) are well known as the worst affected areas, and form part of the off-limits areas. The orange spots on that map, presumably indicating moderate radiation levels are actually similar to the natural radiation levels in Finland - nobody seems to worry about taking their vacations there. The vast majority of the prefecture has normal radiation readings.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

There must be a lot of radioactive melt in some areas. just saying.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

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