What was the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear ‘Fukushima’? It could be tragedy, radiation, hazard, abandoned, wasteland…the list can go on. After my experience with the Fukushima prefecture I would literally describe it as ‘a forgotten beauty’.
What I didn’t realise before was that Fukushima is a prefecture which is split up into three regions. As the disaster occurred on the very eastern shore of the coastline (some of the areas there are still unsafe for human living) we stayed and explored mostly at the opposite end of the western city of Aizuwakamatsu. Despite not trusting all of the negative media coverage of the prefecture, I was still reluctant to go at first, however after tonnes of research and advice from friends who live in Japan I decided to go and see what the real Fukushima was like with my very own eyes. Although it is fair to say that my greed for exploration and curiosity for the unclear attracted me to go even more.
At first I expected it to be a challenge to take pictures in Fukushima, mainly because there was almost miniscule coverage about tourist spots on the internet. It was also a place that is not shown much on Instagram so I didn’t know what to expect. However to my surprise, it came easy. There were so many spots that showcased its natural beauty and being the 4th best prefecture for a hot spring getaway you can see clouds of steam coming from onsen towns in the distance.
We explored various aspects of Fukushima including its samurai history, sake and onsen culture, and stunning natural landscapes and folk villages. My favourite part of the trip was being able to stay at a different hot spring hotel everyday and try out their onsen. It really hits the spot after a long day of exploration. Although I was hired to work there for a week, it really felt like a vacation instead.
It was an eye opening experience where I get to see with my own eyes the beautiful side of Fukushima and get to hear interesting personal accounts on the day everything changed for the prefecture and the lives of residents. What was really touching was that I found out a lot of the people living there moved back to the prefecture from Tokyo in order to contribute and restore their home to its rightful reputation. This post really isn’t a post to lure you into a place where a lot of people still fear, but it is to just to shed a chink of light on the positives and hopefully it can enable people to stop picturing Fukushima as a wasteland, but a reputable beauty that should be remembered.