Retrace our steps

What would happen if the nuclear evacuees all returned home at once? At times, almost all the 80,000 nuclear refugees forced to evacuate areas near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have felt compelled to return to their homes, schools and businesses.

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When they did so, they struggled to recognize places once been so familiar to them. Damage from the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, years of absence and the arrival of rodents had rendered the buildings practically unrecognizable.

We asked former residents or inhabitants from the Fukushima region as well as some actual property owners to join us inside the no-go zone and open the doors to these ordinary, but now unfriendly, places. Facing the camera, they were asked to act as normally as possible – as if nothing had happened.

The idea behind these almost surreal photographs was to combine the banal and the unusual. Against the backdrop of the historical nuclear accident, these images gain a real plausibility.

*Photos: Carlos Ayesta / Guillaume Bression