Unseen (and unauthorised) photos from the ghost towns of Fukushima
The Fukushima disaster was one of the biggest and most terrible man-made catastrophes of all time. In the course of several days on march 2011 a nuclear power plant near Fukushima went from being a welcomed power source to hell on earth. The place was evacuated and access has been denied.
Some photographers go through excruciating process to get the necessary permits, but this story is about Keow Wee Loong, Malaysian photographer, who is oblivious to man made boundaries (see his volcano and scaling the Finance Centre in Shenzhen photos). Keow Wee Loong entered Fukushima and documented how lives were abruptly stopped there.
With regards to entering the restricted red zone Keow tells DIYP that:
When i enter the red zone, I can feel a burning sensation in my eyes and thick chemical smell in the air. before i went there the authority told me that i need a special permit to visit this town and it take 3-4 weeks to get the approval from the local council,, well too much bureaucracy bullshit for me..so i just sneak in the forest to avoid cops on the road …AND IT WAS AMAZING !!!!!, I still remember what is like to only have a GPS and google map walking in the wood at 2am in the morning to get into the town of okuma,futaba and namie
Unlike other venturers into the zone, Keow only used a facemask to protect himself from radiation which is still pretty high in the red zone. This explains why the place has been untouched for so long.
The radiation level is still very high in the red zone. not many people seen this town for the last 5 years…is like it vanished … i can find food,money,gold,laptop and other valuable in the red zone….I’m amaze that nobody looted this town clean. unlike chernobyl the entire town is been looted clean
While radiation was an issue, Keow was more concerned with getting caught. Keow tells TIMES that
since they forewent the hassle of procuring the necessary permits. To avoid police detection, he says, they hiked into the exclusion zone — 25 km through the woods each way, starting at 2 in the morning. They spent 12 hours in the towns of Tamioka, Namie, Futaba and Okuma, wandering through the uncanny shadows of a truncated world. Weeds push through the cracks of abandoned streets. Keow found a box of unopened PlayStations at one location and a lot of used cars (formerly for sale) in another. Magazines dated from early 2011 are still perched on the shelves of an abandoned bookstore
I find comparing this journey by Keow with Rebecca Bathory’s journey to the same place very interesting and showing how two very different approaches to the same subject can yield very different results.
[photos by Keow Wee Loong]
Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.