In Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, they all do these fun-filled activities to enjoy and celebrate autumn, just like they did last year and year before, radioactive fallout or not. A minor nuclear accident must not disturb the preset schedule, ever.
At this point, though an increasing number of parents are simply horrified, the majority are quite happily following whatever the school teachers say and accuse the concerned parents as "monster parent" (a Japlish word that they use in katakana) - a troublemaker. The majority are more worried about their children's prospect of getting into prestigious schools.
1. Radioactive school lunch with tastes of autumn, including chestnuts and mushrooms.
The most hilarious and sad is the school nutritionist in Koto-ku, Tokyo where the high radiation spots have been detected which were likely the result of radioactive fallout from the garbage incineration plant.
According to the blog "Protect children in Koto-ku" (link is in Japanese), a grocer that supplies school lunch food items came to Edagawa Elementary School with the test result of the chestnut that the grocer wanted to sell to school. The test result was: 44 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium detected.
And from the "togetter" collection of related tweets on the subject:
Apparently the grocer brought with him the printout of the test result as an "advertisement", of how "safe" his chestnuts were. Looking at the result, the school nutritionist was relieved that it was such a low number and therefore it was safe. So the school bought the radioactive chestnuts from the grocer and served them in lunch to feed 700 children.
They knew the chestnuts were radioactive, and they served them anyway. The producer, the wholesaler, the retail grocer, and the school all seemed to think that anything below the provisional safety limit was literally, genuinely safe. The school nutritionist was a recent college grad with no influence over lunch decision.
The chestnuts were grown and harvested in Ibaraki Prefecture, just south of Fukushima.
As to mushrooms which tend to concentrate radioactive materials very effectively, many schools are having some sort of "mushroom festival" lunch - using multiple varieties in a spaghetti sauce for example.
2. Radioactive school cleanup
This still goes to the now-infamous Yokohama City. Schools are still having the students do the autumn cleanup of dead leaves and branches in the school yards and rooftops. In Naka-ku, the air radiation on the school rooftop was 0.56 microsievert/hour, but the city official who came to measure left without doing anything, because it was 0.03 microsievert less than the level where the city would have to take some action (0.59 microsievert/hour).
(There are a whole lot more stories like this at the message board of Yokohama Assemblyman Ota, here.)
3. Collecting radioactive leaves and acorns dropped in the leaves
4. Visiting the high radiation spots in Chiba and dig up sweet potatoes
This is very, very popular among kindergartens and nursery schools in Kanto. Children like small stuff like acorns buried in the colorful, fallen leaves. The teachers let small children have fun collecting the leaves and acorns, with bare hands, no masks. One mother was horrified when her kid came back with an extra bag of acorn that the teacher gave him as souvenir. She said she tried her best to smile, and would throw away the bag when the boy was not watching.
Collecting dead leaves for composting in the school yards is also quite popular. One kindergarten in Kashiwa City was asking parents to bring dead leaves to the kindergarten so that the kindergarten could start a new pile of leaf compost in the school yard.
5. Radioactive "undokai" (school athletic meet)
That's another popular activity. Chiba is famous for sweet potatoes in Kanto. Kindergartners and school children from Tokyo and Chiba go there to harvest sweet potatoes, collect fallen leaves to build a fire and bake the potatoes in the fire. In spring, they most likely did the planting of rice on bare feet in the radioactive rice paddies. In autumn, they get to dig the radioactive soil to get sweet potatoes.
In one kindergarten in Kashiwa City (hot spot), they make children dig sweet potatos with bare hands this year, because many children lost the digging tools that the kindergarten gave them last year. So this year after nuclear fallout, the teachers force the kindergartners to use their own tiny hands. No gloves allowed.
Small children and pupils get to run and play in the dirt school yard for the autumnal athletic meet. Many will get to do certain activities like gymnastics on bare feet (the teachers won't allow them to wear shoes). A parent who begged his daughter's school to at least hose down the dust was totally ignored.
It is as if they were intent on killing their young. It is as if the current radiation level was not high enough to cause immediate damage so they wanted to hasten the onset of the damage by piling radiation upon radiation on the young, at every occasion.
So, if you escape Kanto, you don't need to worry anymore? Yes you do. A resigned mother who fled Yokohama with her children to Okinawa tweets that they use cabbages grown and harvested in Gunma Prefecture in school lunch. People living in Kansai report that the local supermarkets are full of vegetables and fruits from Kanto and Tohoku, a phenomenon that they do not recall ever happening in their area.
Soon, radioactive debris will follow, thanks to the tireless campaign by the Ministry of the Environment which is set to grow so fat (in terms of budget appropriation for the Ministry) from the "decontamination" bubble it is creating.
Some of my twitter followers in Japan are jokingly asking if there's any country that would accept Japanese people as "radiation refugee". To me, they should qualify as "political refugee" because if they stay in Japan, their lives are threatened daily by their own government.