Or so it is hoped in Fukushima City.
The country was incomprehensible to the outside world for a long time. It has become incomprehensible even to some of its citizens after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.
The hills in question, Hanami-yama, are famous for cherry blossom trees, but they are also located in Watari District, the most contaminated district in Fukushima City. Professor Mori of Tokyo University picked up an earthworm in that district whose castings had 1.37 million becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium. That's also where the rice was harvested whose radioactive cesium exceeded 1,500 becquerels/kg.
According to Ministry of Education, as of now, the radiation level in the parking lot at the trail head is 0.528 microsievert/hour at 1 meter from the ground, a drop from about 0.7 microsievert/hour after decontamination done on what looks like January 13 and 14, 2013. However, the level has been creeping up again since.
Anyway, this is what the Fukushima local newspaper Fukushima Minpo (1/30/2013) reports:
Hanami-yama to be fully open, hope is that it will trigger explosive recovery
Hanami-yama in Fukushima City is dubbed as "hidden paradise". Starting February, it will be fully open to visitors, as per the decision by the Hanami-yama tourism promotion association at its general meeting held in Fukushima City on January 29. The entry was restricted last year so that the trees could recuperate, but this year the local residents including the owner of the land Mr. Ichiro Abe (age 93) responded to a strong demand from the [cherry blossom tree viewing] enthusiasts. People in the tourism industry which has suffered from the baseless rumors after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident hope that [opening the hills to the visitors] will trigger an explosive recovery of the local tourism.
Hanami-yama is a popular destination in springtime. In 2010, there were 320,000 visitors. However, after the March 11, 2011 disaster and nuclear accident, only 94,000 visited. In 2012, 101,000 people came. As the number of visitors increased, the trees grew weakened. Last year, the entry was restricted, and walking only around the periphery was allowed.
The trees would need about three years to properly recuperate, but the local farmers including Mr. Abe decided to reopen as many people wrote to the city asking for the reopening, and to achieve recovery from the disaster and the nuclear accident.
The park will be open on February 1. From April 5 to 29, the traffic control will be in place and shuttle buses will be operated. The tourism promotion association will provide radiation information on its homepage. The parking lot will be decontaminated by the busiest season in April to dispel fear.
Mr. Mitsuru [?] Tsuchida (age 80) is hopeful. He said, "We have received encouragement from people all over the country. We would like to welcome as many people as we can." Fukushima City Mayor Takanori Seto said, "Lively spring will be back, cheering the city residents. I would also like to thank the local residents [in Watari District]." Mr. Kazuhiro Watanabe (age 62), chairman of the city's tourism convention association, said expectantly, "Damage to tourism has been severe since the disaster. We are looking forward to collaborate with other areas [with famous cherry blossom trees] such as Minaru's cheery trees and Aizu, now popularized by [NHK's year-long drama titled] "Yae no Sakura (double cherry blossoms)."
So, according to the paper (I'm sure that's the popular and only acceptable meme in Fukushima) the reason why the hills were closed off to visitors last year was to give cherry trees a rest, as the trees suffered stress from too many visitors that went from 320,000 in 2010 to 94,000 in 2011. That makes sense, doesn't it?
I wonder if Mr. Abe, 93, and Mr. Tsuchida, 80 really know how contaminated their hills are.
Again, the meme of "visitors from afar will give cheers to the local residents" is there. Just like elementary school kids in Osaka Prefecture were to cheer the residents in another highly contaminated city in Fukushima (Date City), and just like the Tokyo Municipal government wanting to host the 2020 Olympics so that Tokyo residents and people in Japan can receive cheer and vigor from people around the world visiting Tokyo for the occasion.
Explode away, I say.
Hanami-yama before the nuclear accident (2010), from this blog: