Fukushima’s Outdoor Community Has Driven Its Recovery

In 2011, the Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami precipitated a devastating explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture. It was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. In the decade since, the region and its residents have slowly transitioned from reeling to rebuilding. 

Fukushima, a place where the mountains meet the sea, is home to dozens of ski hills and remarkable surf breaks. When filmmaker Mattias Evangelista traveled there last year on assignment, the landscape and the area’s small towns reminded him of his home in Washington State. But after the explosion, the region has been remembered internationally as a disaster site. He thought, What if it were instead known for its outdoor access, the deep annual snowfall, the world-class surfing, and the uncrowded ski resorts? 

Evangelista’s short film, Aizu, introduces viewers to Adachi Futa and Hiroki Matsuura, two locals who offer a window into the way the disaster impacted their lives and the role that snowboarding and surfing had in their healing.

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