Two years have passed since the town of Namie, Japan was ravaged by a horrifying tsunami, and still the region is too unstable because of unsafe radiation levels. As it stands right now, Namie is a ghost town, a terrible reminder imprisoned in time, left as a memory following the Fukushima nuclear disaster. It may not sound like someplace you’d want to visit, but Namie-machi Mayor, Mr. Tamotsu Baba, understands that the town’s honor must live on, even if its through a brand new Street View Project.
As a way to show the gravity of the situation to millions of people worldwide, and give the town’s 21,000 displaced residents some closure, Google drove its Street View cars through the Exclusion Zone. But Baba insists there was once breathtaking beauty and happiness permeating through the streets, a complete juxtaposition of what you can actually see.
Talking about one of Namie-machi’s main streets, Baba recalls outdoor events such as the Ten Days of Autumn festival, and describes the picture-esque landscape of sea and forests. You wouldn’t know any of that by clicking the forward and back buttons in your browser. Yet, it’s important to remember how others are affected by such awful circumstances, and remind ourselves not to take anything for granted.
“Those of us in the older generation feel that we received this town from our forebearers, and we feel great pain that we cannot pass it down to our children,” Baba said. “It has become our generation’s duty to make sure future generations understand the city’s history and culture—maybe even those who will not remember the Fukushima nuclear accident.”
Workers have only been able to accomplish cursory work over the past two years; it’ll be much longer before the town shows any semblance of its former self. And while bringing that devastation to the Internet doesn’t fast track the cleaning process, it may at least help some residents move on. Hopefully the next time we see a Street View of Namie, we’ll actually get to see first-hand what the Ten Days of Autumn festival was really like.