Home / PhotographyPhotos Reveal Emotional Look Inside the Abandoned Fukushima Exclusion Zone

Photos Reveal Emotional Look Inside the Abandoned Fukushima Exclusion Zone

Photos from Fukushima

Laundromat

In 2011, a disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant forever transformed life in the surrounding area of Japan. Spurred by the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, it was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. Nearly a decade after the tragic incident, Polish photographer Natalia Sobańska made the journey to this place, which was once so full of life. During her time in the Fukushima Exclusion Zone, she captured haunting images of a city frozen time.

The deaths of thousands are connected to the incident. While only one fatality was attributed to radiation, over 2,000 people died due to long-term deterioration caused by the evacuation. Many more continue to suffer from the loss of their homes, businesses, and communities. For Sobańska, who specializes in photographing abandoned spaces, her visit was the chance to fulfill her curiosity about what became of the area post-disaster.

While Sobańska was keen to see the effects of the disaster, the emotional impact of what she viewed was something she hadn’t been prepared for. “I imagined abandoned places there—not trashed, only decayed and rotten,” she told My Modern Met. “But when I saw it with my own eyes, I saw the true scale of this tragedy. Thousands of people died, more lost everything. It was more devastating than I imagined it.”

The twelve-mile radius around the power plant has remained an evacuation zone, with workers slowly continuing cleanup work. Though she was grateful for the opportunity to document this unique environment, the sad reminders of the nuclear tragedy were overwhelming. After two days, she and the rest of the group left the exclusion zone but were forever changed by the experience.

Polish photographer Natalia Sobańska spent two days photographing the Fukushima Exclusion Zone.

Fukushima After the Nuclear Disaster
Empty Supermarket in Fukushima

Supermarket

Abandoned Restaurant in Fukushima

Restaurant

100,000 people were evacuated from the area after the devastating Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011.

Fukushima Exclusion Zone Photos by Natalia Sobanska
Fukushima Exclusion Zone Photos by Natalia Sobanska

Pachinko game center

Abandoned Store in Fukushima
Fukushima After the Nuclear Disaster

Wedding center

Abandoned Dry Cleaner in Fukushima

Wedding center

Abandoned Store in Fukushima

Bookstore

Sobańska’s haunting photographs give a shocking look at how life was interrupted in the 12-mile evacuation zone.

Fukushima Exclusion Zone Photos by Natalia Sobanska

School

Fukushima Exclusion Zone Photos by Natalia Sobanska

School

Fukushima Exclusion Zone Photos by Natalia Sobanska

Car dealership

Fukushima Exclusion Zone Photos by Natalia Sobanska
Abandoned Dry Cleaner in Fukushima

Wedding center

It was an emotion visit for the photographer, who specializes in documenting abandoned places.

Fukushima Exclusion Zone Photos by Natalia Sobanska

School

Fukushima After the Nuclear DisasterAbandoned Store in Fukushima

“People know what happened there. I also knew before I went, but to know and to see are two different things.”

Empty Supermarket in Fukushima

Supermarket

Fukushima After the Nuclear Disaster

Supermarket

Fukushima After the Nuclear Disaster

Wedding center

Abandoned Store in Fukushima

Bookstore

Natalia Sobańska: Website | Instagram | Facebook

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Natalia Sobańska.

Related Articles:

Photographer Visits Chernobyl With His Infrared Camera, Captures Stunning Images

Haunting Photos of Deserted Pianos in Abandoned Buildings

The Selfless Hero Who Braved Radiation and Stayed Behind to Feed Fukushima’s Abandoned Animals

Samurai Return to Fukushima to Uphold 1,000-Year-Old Tradition

Want to become a My Modern Met Member?

Find out how by becoming a Patron. Check out the exclusive rewards, here.

Sponsored Content