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Let’s support Fukushima: 14 initiatives to revitalise Fukushima Prefecture

Let’s support Fukushima: 14 initiatives to revitalise Fukushima Prefecture

Located just over an hour by shinkansen from Tokyo, Fukushima Prefecture (福島県 Fukushima-ken) is located in the Tohoku Region and is the third largest prefecture in Japan. This serene prefecture is characterised by the grandeur of its surrounding nature such as excellent hot springs and mountain range, as well as a wide variety of local delicacies.


In March 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake (東日本大震災 Higashi nihon daishinsai) and tsunami devastated the coastal areas of Fukushima Prefecture which caused a nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, forcing hundreds of thousands of residents to evacuate. After years of natural decay and decontamination efforts, Fukushima Prefecture is perfectly safe for tourists to visit. However, there is still uncertainty that lies within the hearts of many and in order to revitalise the prefecture in the new decade, multiple local organisations have started various initiatives to welcome visitors to Fukushima Prefecture. Many of these initiatives and projects take place within the affected towns and cities such as Tomioka (富岡) and Namie (浪江)—the main areas along the Joban Line (常磐線 Jōban-sen) Here are 14 of such initiatives to support the cities and towns affected, in efforts to revitalise Fukushima Prefecture in 2022.


1. Expanding mutual exchange between youths in Fukushima Prefecture and Taiwan

(Image credit:特定非営利活動法人元気になろう福島) 


Genki Naro Fukushima is a non-profit organisation (NPO) working on projects to increase the number of members of the Fukushima zenshin-dan (福島前進団), a group of Taiwanese supporters of Fukushima who aims to expand exports of Fukushima products to Taiwan, and to further strengthen the information dissemination to dispel harmful rumours to this day. Multiple exchange projects centred around the youths in Taiwan such as:


  • Recovery of export performance prior to the Great East Japan Earthquake (approximately half of Fukushima Prefecture products are exported to Taiwan). 
  • Expand business operations and opportunities between Taiwan and Fukushima Prefecture.
  • Create opportunities to increase the inbound tourism from Taiwan to Fukushima Prefecture.


Organised by: NPO Genki Naro Fukushima (特定非営利活動法人元気になろう福島)
Location: Tamura City (田村市), Minamisoma City (南相馬市), and 10 other municipalities
Duration: August 2022–Ongoing


2. costar: Reaffirming Tomioka Town’s attractiveness with a town marche on vacant lots

(Image credit: 特定非営利活動法人コースター)


A people’s market event is held by NPO costar four times a year using vacant spaces available in Tomioka Town (富岡町 Tomioka-machi), one of Fukushima’s coastal towns. This event’s theme revolves around food and shopping. Here, everyone can enjoy themselves while eating delicious food. It also serves as a location for new businesses that are thinking of entering the market to determine the receptiveness of event-goers. Through this event, costar aims to create a movement of lively activities that the town’s people can participate in. 


Organised by: NPO costar (特定非営利活動法人コースター)
Location: Tomioka Town (富岡町)
Duration: 1 July 2022—31 January 2023


3. Kawauchi Labo: Experience nature with your body, in charming Kawauchi Village!

(Image credit: 一般社団法人 かわうちラボ)


This initiative by Kawauchi Labo in Kawauchi Village (川内村) aims to transform the region into an attractive tourist destination for everyone to visit. Not only that, but the aim also includes creating a village where each villager is empowered to have a hopeful and purposeful life. Various other sporting projects like marathons are held in Kawauchi Village to showcase the treasures of the region, such as the scenic nature and warmth of the local people—all while hoping to create fans of the village. 


Organised by: Kawauchi Labo (一般社団法人 かわうちラボ)
Location: Kawauchi Village (川内村)
Duration: 1 July 2022—31 January 2023


4. Fukushima Flower Festival Project 2022

(Image credit: ふくしま花フェスプロジェクト実行委員会)


This initiative focuses on the meaning behind the flowers prepared by the members of the Fukushima Flower Festival Executive Committee. Through sales events and LIVE commerce, they want to convey their gratitude through "Fukushima flowers" to people in the prefecture and all over Japan. Furthermore, to increase the number of farmers in the prefecture, they also hold bus tours for students aiming to become farmers to ease the development of their careers.


Organised by: Fukushima Flower Festival Project Executive Committee (ふくしま花フェスプロジェクト実行委員会)
Location: Minami-soma City (南相馬市), Kawaamata Town (川俣町), Kawauchi Village (川内村), Namie Town (浪江町), Katsurao Village (葛尾村) and other municipalities
Duration: 22 August 2022—31 January 2023


5. Iwaki Sports Club Ltd.: “Joban no mono” umai! “Joban no mono” de katsu! Project

(Image credit: 株式会社いわきスポーツクラブ)


Since its establishment in 2016, Iwaki Football Club has been building a team with the concept of "changing the physical standard of Japan" through thorough strength training, nutritional management, and a proper medical system. Feeling that there are still harmful rumours about the quality of food in Fukushima Prefecture, the players hope to dispel this by promoting and eating Joban food—which are food harvested in the local area—to maintain a healthy lifestyle. They also promote it to supporters at home and away venues, so that they can convey the deliciousness and safety of Joban food.


Organised by: Iwaki Sports Club Ltd. (株式会社いわきスポーツクラブ)
Location: Minami-soma City (南相馬市), Hirono Town (広野町), Iwaki City (いわき市)
Duration: 1 October 2022—31 December 2022


6. Kawauchi Wine Co.: Aiming to be a winery that produces wine beloved by all in Japan

(Image credit: かわうちワイン株式会社)


Kawauchi Village began cultivating grapes for wine brewing in 2016 and established a brewing facility in 2021. Approximately 11,000 bottles of wine have been produced and sales of these bottles began in August 2022. In the future, they hope to develop a business targeting customers to become a wine and winery that are loved by both villagers and people across the country and world. They aim to have people enjoy Kawauchi Village as if it were their second home while focusing on the formation of the Kawauchi Wine Supporter Organisation, holding events to educate others on wine culture.


Organised by: Kawauchi Wine Co. (かわうちワイン株式会社)
Location: Tamura City (田村市) and Kawauchi Village (川内村)
Duration: 8 August 2022—31 January 2023


7. Hop Japan Ltd.: Achieving local sustainability through the production of local beer and beer tourism

(Image credit: 株式会社ホップジャパン)


Hop Japan Ltd. aims to be a role model in the realisation of local sustainability through a facility where you can experience an organically circulating ecosystem centred around the creation of Japan's first craft beer made entirely from locally produced ingredients in the Abukuma area of Tamura City (田村市 Tamura-shi). Through the efforts of this project, they want to increase awareness and sales of all Abukuma products, promote the attraction of customers to the region, increase the number of visitors, dispel harmful rumours, and spread understanding of local sustainability.


Organised by: Hop Japan Ltd. (株式会社ホップジャパン)
Location: Tamura City (田村市) 
Duration: 22 August 2022—31 January 2023


8. Soma Citizens' Market Co.: Hamanoeki Matsukawaura as a base for the promotion of Soma City's seafood products

(Image credit: 相馬市民市場株式会社)


Multi-purpose facility Hamanoeki Matsukawaura (浜の駅松川浦) in Soma City (相馬市 Sōma-shi) was established in 2020 and has since been recognized as a symbol of the region’s efforts of revitalising the fishing industry. Hamanoeki Matsukawaura is divided into a retail shop, food court, and Seashore Kitchen Quasetto. The store also sells seafood products, agricultural goods, and specialty items. They post updates on seasonal fish, new products, various events, information about the surrounding area, etc. on their website and social media platform almost every day. Within the store, they have set up a large calendar that allows customers to find out when and what fish are in season. Visitors can use the "Fish Magazine" and "Fish Cards (with QR Codes)" supervised by active fishermen to learn about the type of fish, the season, how to eat it, and how to handle it. In addition to introducing them, they are working hard to convey the appeal of fish through various events.


浜の駅 松川浦を拠点に相馬の水産物の魅力を発信
Organised by: Soma Citizens' Market Co. (相馬市民市場株式会社)
Location: Soma City (相馬市) 
Duration: 20 June 2022—15 March 2023


9. Japan Surfing Federation: Promoting Fukushima as a surf town

(Image credit: 一般社団法人日本サーフィン連盟)


Not many may know this, but Fukushima Prefecture is recognised as one of Japan's world-class surfing towns, blessed with beautiful nature and high-quality waves. Despite having already recovered from the earthquake, there is still a misunderstanding among surfers across the country that surfing is not possible in the Fukushima sea. Re-educating beachgoers and dispelling harmful rumours are also part of the process of recovery for the prefecture and they aim to revitalise the seaside and contribute to the further development of Fukushima Prefecture.


Organised by: Japan Surfing Federation (一般社団法人日本サーフィン連盟)
Location: Whole prefecture
Duration: June 2022—15 March 2023


10. Hamakara LLC: Discover the charm of Iwaki City's fisheries industry! ““Joban Mono” Waiwai Project”

(Image credit: 合同会社はまから)


This project’s objective is to disseminate the appeal of the fishery industry through the distribution of information using various media platforms. In addition, the organisers Hamakara LLC are planning to hold an event where you can dine on “Joban food”, through developing new products in cooperation with restaurants in the city. With over 200 various catches, the fish markets located in Iwaki City (いわき市 Iwaki-shi) are lively with many fishermen and brokers. This project will be a project to convey the charm of Iwaki's fishery industry to many people.


Organised by: Hamakara Limited Liability Company (合同会社はまから)
Location: Iwaki City (いわき市)
Duration: 1 July 2022—31 January 2023


11. Iwaki Fishery Co., Ltd.: Disseminating the wonders of Fukushima fish with simple cooking videos

(Image credit: いわき魚類株式会社)


This initiative by the Iwaki Fishery Co., Ltd. is a plan to empower the fisheries industry in Fukushima Prefecture by increasing consumption and improving the image of fish from the prefecture. To dispel the negative image of preparing fish dishes as being time-consuming and difficult, the organisers plan to contribute to the increase in fish consumption by creating simple cooking videos that can be enjoyed by a wide range of generations. QR codes are found on the packaging of fresh seafood which allows consumers to access the videos easily. The cooking steps are taught by a professional expert who also explains the deliciousness and nutritious values of  locally-caught fish.


Organised by: Iwaki Fishery Co., Ltd. (いわき魚類株式会社)
Location: Soma City (相馬市), Iwaki City (いわき市) and other municipalities
Duration: 1 July 2022—31 January 2023


12. Hamafuku: Simple and tasty 'camp meals' project using Fukushima Seafood

(Image credit: 浜福)


Tsurushihama fishing port in Shinchi Town (新地町 Shinchi-machi) is located at the northernmost tip of the Hamadori Region, the easternmost region in Fukushima Prefecture. The market was completely destroyed in the Great East Japan Earthquake, but the market reopened in December 2019. However, due to the declining population caused by harmful rumours spread due to the nuclear accident, many shops within the port’s market have since closed down, resulting in local townspeople unable to purchase local seafood unless they go shopping in neighbouring towns. "Hamafuku" was started in March 2022 with the goal of wanting more people to know and eat locally caught seafood at the newly constructed campsite at Tsurushi Ryokuchi Park (鶴見緑地公園 Tsurumiryokuchi-kōen), located just 200m from the beach. 


In addition, the food items introduced will be branded and sold as Fukushima Beach Camp Meal (ふくしま浜キャンプ飯 Fukushima hama kyanpu meshi) and will be sold online and at campsites both in and out of the prefecture in the future. 


Organised by: Hamafuku (浜福)
Location: Shinchi Town (新地町)
Duration: 14 June 2022—31 January 2023


13.  Fukushima Kyoso Nature Run Series: A series of marathon events held in the Hamadori area of Fukushima Prefecture

(Image credit: ふくしま共走ネイチャーランシリーズ実行委員会)


In the Hamadori area, including Tamura City and Kawamata Town which were severely damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, the organising committee of Fukushima Kyoso Nature Run Series aims to revitalise the area through a series of marathons events held by each municipality to increase the number of visitors to the area. The marathons are also promoted through the use of comprehensive dissemination of information using their established websites, posters, flyers, and PR Booths at each tournament venue to promote other tournaments and tourist information of participating municipalities.


Organised by: Fukushima Kyoso Nature Run Series Executive Committee (ふくしま共走ネイチャーランシリーズ実行委員会)
Location: Tamura City (田村市), Minami-Soma City (南相馬市), Kawamata Town (川俣町), Hirono Town (広野町), Nahara Town (楢葉町), Tomioka Town (富岡町), Kawauchi Village (川内村), Iwaki City (いわき市)
Duration: 1 June 2022—20 March 2023


14. Terroage Fukushima: Promotes the excellence of Fukushima's food and sake both at home and abroad

(Image credit: テロワージュふくしま実行委員会)


The Terroage Fukushima Executive Committee believes that the strengths of Fukushima are Japanese sake and ingredients which are grown in a rich natural environment. With the catchy phrase "Terroir x Mariage" (a newly coined word that expresses the fusion of sake and cuisine), restaurants and inns offer dishes that use high-quality ingredients produced in the prefecture in marriage with sake produced in the prefecture. In collaboration, information on the "attractiveness of Fukushima's food" is disseminated on their website and various media platforms, alongside various events.


Organised by: Terroage Fukushima Executive Committee (テロワージュふくしま実行委員会)
Location: Whole prefecture
Duration: July 2022—31 January 2023


With so many wonderful initiatives being held across the prefecture, let us play a part to support Fukushima Prefecture and include this quaint prefecture in our itinerary for our future trip to Japan.


Header image credit: 相馬市民市場株式会社, 一般社団法人 かわうちラボ, かわうちワイン株式会社 and 株式会社いわきスポーツクラブ


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