When Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant suffered a meltdown during the disastrous 2011 tsunami, it made the nation rethink nuclear power. Almost five years later, the small villages surrounding the plant are still quarantined—empty ghost towns stuck in time. It's called the "exclusion zone," and it's one of the most radioactive places on Earth.
Inside the zone, chunks are ripped out of buildings, totaled cars lie on the street, and clocks are stopped at the moment the tsunami struck. Nature is slowly taking over the houses and possessions of those who once called this place home.
"I feel like I'm in a parallel world," says Norikatsu Nakazato, who is only rarely allowed to visit his family's 110-year-old house. "I don't think I'll be able to live here again in this lifetime."
Fusion's Tim Pool took a trip to the heart of the exclusion zone in October to talk with Nakazato and other survivors. Follow along—but keep an eye on the radioactivity meter.
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- Japan just turned one of its nuclear reactors back on for the first time since Fukushima