Berkeley Lab

Monday, 8/31/15

Today was very busy. We had breakfast buffet style at our hotel, and were then picked up to be driven to Koriyama City Hall. There, my dad met with several people, while I was taken to go visit the local shrine. A priest showed us around and told us that this shrine was built relatively recently compared to others, and that is was a place to worship the sun goddess. We ran out of time to walk around the park, because we were supposed to meet back up with my dad and who he was meeting with to go meet the mayor, Mr. Shinagawa, and several directors and senior staff of Koriyama City. Some of the senior staff would accompany us to the places in Koriyama City as well as Fukushima City. The mayor visited Berkeley last April to attend the 1st International Symposium on Radiological Resilience, which my dad co-organized, so this meeting was very important. There, Mr. Shinagawa met Tom Bates, the mayor of Berkeley.

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After that, we were taken to lunch at a restaurant called ama terrasse. The food consisted of multiple small appetizers, main dish, two small desserts and coffee. It was very delicious.

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After lunch we visited a potential venue for the second international symposium on radiological resilience in April, and I think everyone there agreed it was a really good place for it. We then visited the public health center, where, ever since the disaster, people have been able to come to check their own radiation levels, since many people grew very worried about getting harmed from it. The machine reads levels of potassium 40, which is natural in the environment around us, and is in us because of the food we eat. The machine also detects cesium, but there have been very few cases of it, and the amount of it was much lower than the amount of potassium, so the dosage was nothing to be worried about. I was measured as well, and I had about 3,000 becquerel of potassium, which is completely normal for someone of my size. Outside many public places, dosimeters were installed, to get people to realize that radiation is everywhere but the amount of it is not harmful.

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We then went to PEP kids, which is an indoor playground constructed after the disaster, since parents stopped letting their children play outside due to worries about radiation. It was built to look a little bit like a mountain and a lake near Koriyama, so that some local nature is represented. The playground is free, and there is much to do, including playing with sand and water. There was also a kitchen where children could learn how to cook basic meals. A radiation dosimeter was located outside as well. Our last stop was the Fukushima Agricultural Technology Center, where samples of food that is exported from the Fukushima Prefecture are tested for high dosages of radiation using germanium detectors. This is important, because after the disaster, many countries were skeptical of the food exported from near the disaster.

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After this long day we were driven to Kawauchi Village, a small town about an hour from Koriyama City, that was evacuated due to the disaster, and resettled and repopulated about a year and a half afterwards. During the drive you could really notice how green Japan is. Everywhere you look there are dense forests and steep hills. This is very different than in California, considering the drought we are in. The hotel we stayed at was traditional Japanese Ryokan, so we slept on futons, which turned out to be very comfortable. We had a traditional dinner as well, which was very delicious. Makiko Orita, an assistant professor from Nagasaki University, joined us for lunch, as she would be accompanying us to tomorrows locations. She has been living in this village for two years now, to help address concerns that the public has about radiation. At Kawauchi Village, the radiation turned out to be about 0.15uSv/h, which comes out to be 1.3mSv per year, which is low, which is why the town was resettled so quickly after the accident.

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