Five years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake. In the three Tohoku prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima, which suffered severely from the tsunami, local governments and companies are planning “recovery tourism” tours in which visitors travel through areas that were affected by the disaster.
The tours are intended to prevent memories of the disaster from fading and raise interest about the steps to recovery the region has taken. Tourists can learn a lot from seeing the area as it rebuilds.
The Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011 seriously damaged social infrastructure in Tohoku, including tourist attractions, facilities and roads.
In the coastal regions, where the scars remain deep, the number of tourists has yet to recover.
Along the coast of Miyagi Prefecture, for example, the number is still down by about 40 per cent compared to before the earthquake.
The prefecture has allocated about 40 million Yen (Bt12.4 million) in its initial fiscal 2016 budget to attracting school trips and other groups of visitors.
Private companies are also active in the movement.
The Minami-Sanriku Hotel Kanyo in Minami-Sanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, where the damage was particularly severe, holds a bus tour for its guests every morning to places affected by the disaster.
Hotel staff describe how the residents reacted in evacuation areas such as the local primary school.
The tour takes about an hour, and already more than 100,000 people have heard the stories. The participation fee is 500 yen..
H.I.S. Co. hosts a two-day, one-night tour at a farm that is working to overcome harmful rumours regarding nuclear contamination in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture.
The tour leaves from Tokyo and costs 31,000 yen for adults.
Participants learn about the measures farmers are taking to ensure the safety of their produce, and also visit Iitate in the prefecture to hear from local residents about what people have done to recover from the nuclear accident.