In “Retracing Our Steps“, French photographers Carlos Ayesta and Guillaume Bression asked some of the 80,000 nuclear refugees forced to evacuate areas near Fukushima to return to places they knew, a process that took almost four years of detective work and jumping rings What they found was a world that had become almost unrecognizable, but also stories that were deeply human, evoking Auden’s famous poem “Musée des Beaux Arts”.

“We ask the former residents or inhabitants of the Fukushima region, and in some cases, the actual owners of certain properties, to join us within the forbidden zone and open the doors to these ordinary places, but now hostiles, “says the artists statement. “In front of the camera, they were asked to act as normally as possible, as if nothing had happened.The idea behind these almost surrealistic photographs was to combine the banal and the unusual.The fact of the historical nuclear accident gives these images a real plausibility “

Former residents of Fukushima return home in a ghost town in emotional photos

“Midori Ito is in an abandoned supermarket in Namie, where nothing has changed since the disaster, and in a panel you can even read the words” fresh products “in Japanese, right after the disaster, Midori Ito evacuated Minami Aizu because of the health risks associated with radioactivity Finally, he returned to live with his children in the city of Koriyama, located about 60 km from the plant. “

Former residents of Fukushima return home in a ghost town in emotional photos
“Rieko Matsumotoest is in a Namie laundry, she is a nutritionist and counselor.” On the day of the earthquake, I was working with a Filipino customer who was there for the first time. She was ready to measure parts of her body, and was about to take off her clothes when the ground began to shake. She spoke to me in Japanese until that moment, but when she hit, she suddenly started screaming in English. ”
Former residents of Fukushima return home in a ghost town in emotional photos

“Kanoko Sato is in a gymnasium in a school in the Ukedo district, destroyed by the tsunami and left that way since the disaster.” If it were not for this project, I would never have seen this area forbidden with my own eyes. Koriyama and that is close enough, I did not know to what extent this place was devastated until today “”
Former residents of Fukushima return home in a ghost town in emotional photos

“Shigeko Watanabe ran a small print shop in the city center of Namie, she will never open her business again.” Personally, I think decontamination does not make sense because nobody will come back here anyway. Only men say they will return but women are stronger than them and we manage to face the truth. The government urges us to prepare to return, but for me, the city of Namie will be destroyed. “

Former residents of Fukushima return home in a ghost town in emotional photos

“Katsuyuki Yashima is sitting in his own workshop, at the time of the accident, he and his wife were employing 15 people, their company will not reopen, and he does not believe they will be living in Namie even after the city has reopened. “I will not go back because I can not restart my business. In 10 years, Namie will be a ghost town. According to a survey, only 20% of the inhabitants of Namie want to return. Little by little, over the years, people will rebuild their lives elsewhere and, in the end, nobody will return. “Katsuyuki Yashima lives in the city of Iwaki, where the level of radioactivity is very low.”

Former residents of Fukushima return home in a ghost town in emotional photos
Former residents of Fukushima return home in a ghost town in emotional photos
Former residents of Fukushima return home in a ghost town in emotional photos
Former residents of Fukushima return home in a ghost town in emotional photos
“Setsuro Ito is a veterinarian, he takes care of the animals, especially the cows that live in the forbidden zone, here he is sitting in a bar, he left Japan to live in Brazil when he was 30, but after March 11 He decided to return to his country to help the farmers in the exclusion zone who decided not to sacrifice their livestock, now he lives in the city of Fukushima. ”
Former residents of Fukushima return home in a ghost town in emotional photos

Former residents of Fukushima return home in a ghost town in emotional photosFormer residents of Fukushima return home in a ghost town in emotional photos
“Kazuhiro Onuki is in his old house in Tomioka, before the accident, he ran a bookstore and also had a Japanese pottery shop, he was robbed several times as a result of the accident, and all the valuable pieces disappeared, we wanted to photograph him in his house. Sala captures quite the atmosphere of his abandoned house today.Kazuhiro Onuki evacuated to the Tokyo area with his wife and daughter.He regularly participates in lectures in which he is invited to talk about his nuclear disaster experience.Even if he comes back occasionally to clean his house , will not come back here to live. ”
Former residents of Fukushima return home in a ghost town in emotional photos

“Hidemasa and Michiko Otaki are in their old air-dresser shop in Tomioka, a city hit by the tsunami and evacuated after the nuclear accident, she practiced this profession for 40 years.” She had just finished a cut when the earthquake struck. After the accident, we moved from one shelter to another and started cutting hair for the other refugees. One day, I was talking to another refugee, and she told me that a house was free 40 km south of the plant. This is where I have lived for more than 2 years. “

Former residents of Fukushima return home in a ghost town in emotional photos

Former residents of Fukushima return home in a ghost town in emotional photos

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