Back during the economic boom of the 1990s, a local man decided to set up a theme park revolving around the stag beetles and rhinoceros beetles so common in the area. On March 11, 2011 Fukushima prefecture and Miyagi prefecture experienced large tsunamis as a result of a 9.0 earthquake centered not too far off the coast of Japan. One of the things damaged was a nuclear power plant about 25 miles (40 kilometers) away from the park. Because of the contamination, the park was shut down.
For more information on the park and its history, read http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/9/13/fukushima-bringstroubletomushimushiland.html:
Recently, some colleagues and I went exploring. Here is what the park looks like now.
This first picture is from just outside the park, 1 kilometer (half a mile) away, to be exact. The character on the sign is the park’s official mascot. It is, you guessed it, a cartoonized version of a rhinoceros beetle.
Inside the neglected park is run down. There is rust on the equipment. The weeds and grass have overtaken a good chunk of the area. It’s empty, and I was a little shocked at how run down a place can get so quickly.
This next picture shows a bit of the former glory, what it used to look like. If you look at it the right way, you can make out the praying mantis structure of this playground set:
Outside the park are big black plastic bags full of contaminated soil. The area is now officially safe, but even though no new radiation is coming, the contaminated items still needed to be removed. In this case, that means bags that sit by the highway until someone figures out what to do with them.
Yet despite everything, the view from the top of the mountain is still amazing, a reminder of why a park was built there and the beauty of the area that the owner wanted to showcase. It reminds me of a scene in Evan Almighty when God pulls Evan aside and shows him the valley as he created it. In the same way, I look at this and see what it is this place was meant to be.