Visiting Fukushima and learning about the countless pollution cases in Japan makes it hard to understand the resilience within the communities we visited. By actually meeting with people affected by the Fukushima disaster, the devastating effects are a little more comprehensible, but the sentiment remains that we will never get close to truly understanding the impact of the triple disaster. The best we can do is listen to the people who want to tell us their stories and learn from their persistence and resilience. This resilience was especially evident at Shinrin No Bokujo, a dairy farm in the forest.
Sitting in a cozy cabin after being greeted by a goat and a baby cow, the dairy farm couldn’t be more welcoming. The atmosphere was calm and quiet. Cows roamed on a large field as a light snow started to gather on the ground. Picturesque and hip, I never imagined that a dairy farm could look like this. I never imagined that just eight years ago the owner, Yamakawa, had to start over and rebuild from scratch. The soil was radioactive and had to excavated, the cows at the time were no longer feasible since they ate the grass from the radiated soil, and his home was a mess from the earthquake. Being a small dairy farm, Yamakawa had trouble coming up with the resources for building his dairy farm back up. Doing the work himself, the farm was able to be rebuilt and work as it did before. From the support of the community, Yamakawa persisted through a terrible disaster and was able to continue his dream of running a small dairy farm. I will also add that I had the best milk I have ever had here.
Closer to the disaster, we got to visit Fukushima and see some incredible solutions in response to the triple disaster. Moving away from nuclear power, the IIdate Power Company came up with a solution that minimizes land usage and increases the use of solar power. By placing solar panels on top of farmland, this idea is rooted in safe energy and safe food. What struck me most was that these workers were not motivated by profit, but by supplying a safe energy source for its community. This solution is essential, especially since Japan’s population is so large. It is beautiful to see people who are dedicating their life to the safety and preservation of their community, regardless of the difficulties that were brought onto them. As our trip comes to a close I know which stories will remain with me, I know that I have seen incredible feats of vitality throughout our trip, and I know that I will miss Japan.
Baby cow at Shinrin No Bokujo Solar Panels on top of farmland. Created by the IIdate Power Company