The Buddha of Fukushima's Forbidden Zone: A Photo Essay

This is the story of Naoto Matsumura, Tomioka City, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan–the last man standing in  Fukushima’s Forbidden Zone. He will not leave;  he risks an early death because his defiance of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and the government is his life now. He is not crazy and he is not going. He remains there to remind people of the human costs of nuclear accidents. He is the King of The Forbidden Zone; its protector. He is the caretaker or empty houses, a point of contact for those citizen who can’t return. He takes care of the animals, “the sentient beings”, that remain behind because no one else will.  He is the Buddha of the forbidden zone.

Last stop.

For more than nine months, the 20 km zone around the Fukushima power plant has been a forbidden zone, where evacuation is an obligation for everyone, except one man. Since the nuclear accident, Naoto Matsumura refuses to leave his farm. At the age of 52, this farmer is physically in a good shape. In the city of Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture, where he currently lives, there is no water and no electricity. “When I wake up in the morning, I take my dogs for a nice walk. I  brushing my teeth. I do this for about twenty minutes. And then I try to think about what to do for the rest of my day”. Matsumura usually eats instant ramen, which are easy to prepare with a bit of boiled water. He drinks mineral water when he manages to find some. In summer, he took showers in the greenhouse, with the water from the river, which he boils with charcoal he finds here and there. The water from the river is radioactive. Before the nuclear accident, Matsumura used to fish at the river. Last summer, he did his laundry there. With a large smile on his face, Matsumura says: “I love fishing. The rivers and the sea here are full of fish, however I cannot eat them, because they contain too much cesium. The rain of cesium particles spread by the crippled Fukushima Number 1 power plant (福島原発第一) after the nuclear meltdown back in March has contaminated them.”

Tomioka is a small town that stands between the Fukushima Number 1 and Number 2 power plants. It used to be a quiet little town on the Pacific coast of Japan, where 16,000 inhabitants lived before March 12. To this day, some elderly people have been coming and leaving, but there is only one citizen who has stayed and lived there continuously. Tomioka was been evacuated on the next day after the tsunami hit. The orders from the authorities were clear and simple: “Take the minimum amount of your possessions and get out.”

The refugees from Fukushima (Tomioka) have abandoned their houses, their belongings, their cars, their pets, but they hoped to come back afterwards. The last people who were resisting the orders like Matsumura, felt they had to give up the fight. TEPCO, the private operator of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, after first denying any meltdowns later revised their statements to acknowledge the core of three reactors had melted down and that  the “problem” might still be actually  solved… after 30 years. Matsumura notes that “TEPCO and the Japanese government have never stopped lying, out of their good will, in order to avoid panic among the population. Such good intentions, of course.”

Despite his white hair and mustache, Matsumura looks like a Hollywood actor. He smokes twenty “Mild Seven” cigarettes a day: “I buy cigarettes when I go out of the forbidden zone from time to time. I like smoking. If I quit smoking now, I may get ill!” He laughs.

Back in June 2011, according to a photographer who entered the forbidden zone to visit Matsmura: “Around his newly built house on the top of a hill in Tomioka, enormous spider nets invaded the vegetation, like everywhere else in the ghost town. Enormous spiders seemed to take advantage of the radioactivity and the evacuation of the zone in order to pullulate”.

Matsumura has been looking after 400 cows, 60 pigs, 30 fowls, 10 dogs, more than hundred cats and an ostrich. The ostrich was the official mascot of TEPCO; they brought it to the town, allegedly. The ostrich was supposed to represent energy efficiency. The ostrich needs very little food to survive and thrive; it’s a very energetic animal. Unfortunately, it also has a tendency to bury its head in the sand when dealing with danger and is not a very bright bird. It makes a fitting symbol for TEPCO and its executives. (There is, however, no past history of ostriches being arrested for criminal negligence resulting in death and/or injury. They’re stupid creatures but not evil.)

“What happened to the animals is that, when the people of Tomioka evacuated in March, everybody  opened the gates and the cages of the animals. They left their animals alone or returned them to nature, and especially the cattle and the pigs have become wild and they are currently living in the wilderness where they are growing”.

 

 

“I have seen animals dying, from diseases or for example, from being tied to ropes”. “When the cattle are still young, we put a rope around their faces. I saw some cows bleeding to death, because, tied to their rope, they grew bigger”.

 

 

Matsumura goes to bed at around 6 PM, and gets up at the rising sun. He has no electricity in his house, and the temperatures go below freezing. When he wakes up, he listens to the silence that surround him. At least he can hear the sound of the living birds, dogs or cats, which are ill or depressed. He does not know if their pain is due to radiation.   Only the cows that have gone wild seem to be flourishing and healthy: “They are gorgeous and fat. They eat a lot of grass,” Matsumura says.

Six cows were born since March. They looked “normal”.

In Tomioka, human time has stopped twice. Once when the tsunami hit, and a second time during the massive evacuation.

A photo reporter who went inside the red zone in April 2011 spoke about his impressions: “While looking at the sea, there was no other noise than the noise of the wind and the waves hitting the rocks”. “Inside the houses, which have become ruins after they were hit by the tsunami, dirt has been accumulating in the living rooms”. “There is a cynical contrast with the town streets, which remained clean despite the lack of care”. “We have to search very closely to discover that, behind those quiet houses, in the back side of the walls, a window has been broken.”

Robbers and thieves have made their ways into the zone. “The ATM in stores were also tempting and easy prey. There were no policemen in the zone. The ATM have been broken up with hammers and looted in order to steal radioactive money, which currently circulates somewhere in Japan.”

“Farms have become death camps. The cattle houses are full of dead animals in the stage of decomposition”.

“The worms and the crows are cleaning the big parts”.

To erase the smell of the mass graves, more time will be required. However, all the cows that escaped are not out of danger. On a farm, Matsumura saw a young cow that was suffering. She was not in good shape. A rope attached to its face was blocking its jaw. After seven months, the calf had become a cow. “The skull that was growing fast was trapped within the rope. The skin and the muscle were cut vividly by the furrow created by the rope. The animal could not drink, nor eat.”

The cow was trying to get rid of its rope with its foot leg but without success. When Matsumura approached the cow in order to cut the rope, the cow escaped. Like many cows before her, she was going to starve to death.

Some gates have never been opened.

 

In this human desert, the air seems so pure, that one could forget the radioactive contamination that cannot be measured without a Geiger counter. Matsumura lives in his dangerous solitude like a king, and the forbidden zone is his kingdom. He treats the animals that live in there like his friends. He is a benevolent king.

Mr. Matsumura found two dogs caught in wild pig traps in the mountains. He set them free but couldn't save their legs.

 

Mr. Matsumura thinks the dog got caught in the wild boar trap while going on a stroll where he used to go with his master. The right paw was lost.

When he sees a cat or a dog, he stops, he strokes them and offers them a share of pet food crackers. For him, the  massively abandonment of the cattle to  a long and painful death in their cages, in their barns, was a hideous crime. In spring 2011, he heard that the veterinary services of the Fukushima prefecture were going to launch a campaign to kill the surviving cattle and other animals. Metallic wire fences had been prepared all over the forbidden zone in order to trap them in order to inject disinfectant in their veins, not poison, which would cause them to die a painful death. Matsumura was angry: “This massacre made no sense at all. They are living beings. I want to tell the whole world that they are not only going to kill the cattle, all the animals in the forbidden zone will be killed in secret!” In May 2011, there were about 2000 living cows. Three moths ago, there were 400 of them. As for the cats and dogs, we are not really sure about the numbers anymore.

Matsumura spends his days feeding the animals. Every morning, he goes from houses to houses in order to feed the cats and dogs that stayed in town, then he goes to feed the his pigs and wild pigs.

Matsumura also used to own 32 beehives, but he has only 3 left. Radioactivity seems to have decimated his bees. One day in June, Matsumura made an unexpected encounter in Okuma, a neighborhood in Tomioka. He does not like to go there because the level of radiation is very high, one of the highest spots in the forbidden zone. In Okuma, the corpses have been abandoned because they were too radioactive to be given back to their families. In the middle of the street, there was an ostrich. She was the only survivor of the local farm, which used to keep thirty other ostriches. That ostrich is very popular among the policemen who started to patrol inside the forbidden zone around August 2011.

“They gave her a name: Boss”.

Matsumura tried to attract the bird with dog food and put a rope around her neck so that he could keep her with him to enjoy her company. But she escaped. “Boss” seemed in very good shape after seven months of freedom. The policemen wearing anti-radiation suits used to take photographs of themselves next to her. Matsumura spends his days without a Geiger counter. He does not calculate the doses of radioactivity he absorbs on a daily basis in the food, in the air and in the soil. The whole world had been touched by the dignity of the Japanese people during the successive disasters that hit the country. For Matsumura, when asked to speak on the subject of TEPCO,  the operator of the power plant, he thinks they did not act with excessive moderation, but with apathy and indifference.

“The citizens of Fukushima protest very little. TEPCO took their houses, their land, the air and the water, and they accept it! No one was angry. Before the construction of the nuclear power plant, TEPCO said: ‘Problems will never occur, never’. Everyone has been cheated. I went myself to the headquarters of TEPCO in Tokyo to ask them for explanations. The only things that the leaders have been able to tell me is ‘sumimasen’ (we’re sorry). And the Japanese government has repeatedly announced during three months, that the radioactivity is not dangerous!”

Matsumura has been living without a Geiger counter, however recently, JAXA, the equivalent of the NASA in Japan has discretely given him a dosimeter.

JAXA has analyzed some sample of land and food taken from the zone. “Around Tomioka, the levels of radioactivity in the soil are superior to Chernobyl,” he was told. Matsumura likes the mushrooms in the forest. However he knows that those he took in the forest are highly contaminated. Despite his weariness, Matsumura is conscious of the risks he is taking. However, his sense of humor has not left him; it may outlast the radioactivity.

“There are good sides to this tragedy. The telephone is free, and I do not need to pay my electricity bills. Life has become cheaper.”

At some point, Matsumura has accepted to take a whole body counter check of the situation inside his body (internal exposure). The doctors exclaimed: “You are a champion of radiation!” Matsumura does not wish to comment any further on this subject. When he speaks about his family, he speaks very freely:  “My father is 80 years old, my grandmother lived until she was hundred years old, so I had the hope to live at least until I get to my eighties. With the radioactivity, I think I will live until my sixties, at best”.

“Tomioka, for me, is the most beautiful place in the world, there is the ocean, the mountains and the forest. Nothing will make me leave this soil, on which my family has been living on for five generations”.

Update:

Dear readers and supporters of Mr. Matsumura,

If you live in Japan and if you wish to support Mr. Naoto Matsumura in his struggle to keep the animals alive, please feel free to use his Japanese Bank account. With Japan Subculture we will soon fix a pay pal system to collect donations from abroad. Mr. Naoto Matsumura is currently fighting to either convince the Japanese government not to kill these pet animals, or at least to keep the internal organs and to provide them to international scientific labs or universities in order to study them and collect useful data.

This is Mr. Naoto Matsumura’s private bank account:

東邦銀行 安積支店 普通 NO636789 松村直登
Toho Ginko (bank), Asaka Shiten (branch), No 636789 , Matsumura Naoto

Mr. Naoto Matsumura takes care of his friend. *All photos were provided courtesy of Naoto Matsumura.

Comments
103 Responses to “The Buddha of Fukushima's Forbidden Zone: A Photo Essay”
  1. Steve S. says:

    Good piece — but the part about ostriches putting their head in the ground is a myth.

    From Wikipedia:

    “Contrary to popular belief, Ostriches do not bury their heads in sand. This myth likely began with Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79), who wrote that Ostriches “imagine, when they have thrust their head and neck into a bush, that the whole of their body is concealed.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ostrich

  2. Max Hodges says:

    Some obvious question seems to go unanswered here. It is illegal to enter the “off-limits” evacuation zone established under the Disaster Countermeasures Basic Law. The zone covers a 20-km radius from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station where tens of thousands of residents were instructed to evacuate under the Law on Special Measures Concerning Nuclear Emergency Preparedness. The penalty is a fine up to 100,000 yen. Why have the authorities made an exception for this man, or is he just often arrested but ignores the fine?

  3. sixmats says:

    Excellent piece, but I think it needs a good portrait of Mr. Matsumura.

  4. Excellent photography! I love the casual look of the ostrich crossing the street. 😀

  5. anon says:

    This man is not Buddha, he’s a moron. As the son,grandson, nephew and cousin of Hibakusha, this man offends me. 67 years later the Hibakusha and their children are still dealing with the fallout of the bomb, trying to figure out if they going to get the common forms of radiation cancer or the more rare forms of cancers because of modern medicine has allowed them to live longer.
    Tell me that he couldn’t wear a radiation suit and feed and care for those animals, He’s like an inner city policeman who doesn’t wear a bullet proof vest he’s taking a big risk with his life and even with those people come in contact with him when he leaves the forbidden zone..And if he gets sick tomorrow who will be there to care for those animals he’s trying to save?

  6. anon says:

    I stand by my criticism of Mr Matsumura albeit I was little harsh. Being raised a good Christian boy, let’s face it being Japanese means that I also had exposure to Buddhism and the Shinto religion. And one of the doctrine in Buddhism is not only respect for nature but respect for one’s own body and exposing yourself to radiation goes against it. He not only exposed himself but also knowingly exposes other people to radiation because he isn’t decontaminated every time he leaves and starts touching things. Not only that, but because of his refusal to protect himself , he has also affected the lives of all of Japanese people because he will eventually become an expensive insurance burden. So from a karmic stand point, I consider it a push and I think that’s being generous

    • Well, I guess it all depends on how much value you see in the lives of sentient beings and whether it’s worth potentially shortening your own life to take care of other living creatures. Mr. Matsumura is a conduit to people who left the town. He visits the graves of their family members and pays his respects to them, he checks on their pets. I don’t really think the guy is radioactive nor is he negligent in decontaminating himself before venturing into the outer world, to the best of my knowledge.
      I don’t think he’s a moron and in fact I think he’s kind of admirable–he’s willing to sacrifice a few years to do what he thinks is the right thing to do and he won’t turn his back on the suffering. It isn’t the choice I would make but I’m not him.

  7. TokyoJ says:

    Great article but I think he’s less of a Buddha and more of a Mother Theresa for the abandoned animals of Fukushima. I don’t think anyone should be offended by him. He loves animals, cigarettes and instant ramen. He’s in heaven. People are just jealous.

  8. anon says:

    I think I need to reiterate my point. I don’t take exception to the fact that this man is caring for animals and going for hakamairi. I do think he should be wearing protection when in such a dangerous area. When my disabled Mother had to have her arm x-rayed, I didn’t say”No thanks, I don’t need to wear the lead apron because I take care of my Mother”, I put the apron on and held her arm so it could be x-rayed. Just because I don’t agree with what Mr. Matsumura’s approach is not a criticism of the article itself.
    And as far as being jealous TokyoJ.Huh? Jealous of developing mutant DNA. I probably have that already thanks to the atomic bomb. And not to be a snot, but when it comes to Japan, its people and Japanese history, let’s just say anyone who has studied Japanese history or walked on a tour of Japan has read about my ancestors role in history or seen at least one building built by one of my ancestors…
    I will say this, Mr Matsumura does have the making of all the classic Japanese monster movies. A embittered man (bitter because of the destruction of his way of life) alone cares for abandoned animals in a high radiation zone. The animals mutate and grow to such large proportions that they march to Tokyo destroying everything in its path..

  9. Morna says:

    Mr Matsumura’s protective effort for the creatures of Fukushima is an act of heroism. I salute his bravery and kindness. If there were more people like him we would be living in a superior world.

  10. Piers says:

    Interesting article. Keep up the good work JSRC!

    BTW:

    “WASHINGTON, D.C. – December 19, 2011 — An estimated 14,000 excess deaths in the United States are linked to the radioactive fallout from the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan, according to a major new article in the December 2011 edition of the International Journal of Health Services. This is the first peer-reviewed study published in a medical journal documenting the health hazards of Fukushima”

    http://www.radiation.org/press/pressrelease111219FukushimaReactorFallout.html

    Wonder what the figures are for Japan?

    And speaking of internal exposure to hot particles, if you are in Eastern Japan you might want to consider taking calcium and magnesium tablets.
    (well, I am…but I ain’t a monk 😉 )

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12EEeaMuEdU

  11. Javier Ortiz says:

    Go Fukhusima, Our help, Love always.

  12. C.C. says:

    Anon – I do see your point. Maybe Mr. Matsumura will learn this perspective sometime.

    I do agree with Morna, and my first reaction to this piece is that Mr. Matsumura is a hero. He is responding to his circumstances with compassion, and he seems to be enjoying his life – which is what’s important.

  13. jay adams says:

    to Aanon why would you call this guy a moron ???whats hes doing is pretty cool and it is his life to do what he chooses with it.i do agree he could do it a lot safer but do you really believe a radiation suit would help ?? probably not and there most likely not easy to find.I dont know but id rather focus on the good things this guy is doing instead of complaining on how unsafe he’s being..Comon you say you were raised a CHRISTIAN so then we know that GOD can protect a person in any situation even a burning furnace.We dont need to test GOD in this area but if someone is doing good things even if its just helpinig hopeless animals…id rather just sugjest some prayer for this guy rather than point a finger at him and call him a moron….what have you done to help anyone or anything lately ??? im not saying you havent but really ????think about it ????

  14. paula M says:

    Besides all this why didn’t people take their small pets with them ??
    I find it impossible to imagine it was of their own choice ?
    And when will the world learn from this , as there are many other Nuclear Plants
    else where Just waiting to pop their lids at another unfortunate DISATER !!!

  15. marja says:

    I respect Naoto Matsumura very high and look at him like a saint, the last hero in Fukushima area or maybe I should say in whole Japan. He is the last samurai. If I were there, I think, I would do the same as him. I would live rest of my life there and be happy about the silence and the living memories before the nuclear accident. If he is a bitter man or not, means nothing, because he is living with the animals and looks like a happy sentient beeing.

  16. Anth says:

    Seriously Anon…you need to lighten up…Let Mr Matsumura glow in the dark and become a Godzilla if that is his path. The animals are glad he is there for these times, and if he were to drop dead then they will die or move on too. Life doesn’t have to be about fear of death when one is embracing life.

  17. Nancy says:

    I get it, not sure if I would do the same in his situation or not. His home is there, he knows this will take years off his life and is taking at least some steps to lessen his exposure. If he wasn’t there more animals would be suffering or starving. The rescue groups can’t do everything. He is also a pair of eyes in the zone to tell the rest of us what is going on. I bet he sees and knows things that would otherwise go unknown.

  18. Eileen M Harrington says:

    How can we help this heroic man and his compassionate care for the animals? He has decided to sacrifice his life for the land and care of the animals, and to make it clear that he was against the nuclear power plants from the beginning. He is now my hero. Again, the question isn’t whether this man is “sane” in doing this–as sanity supposedly exists in leaders who support nuclear energy and wars over energy sources–but how can we help him continue and expand his work for the animals, nature and land of the area?

  19. InJM says:

    @Piers Busby? Isn’t that the guy who was selling useless pills to people in Japan?

    http://www.japanprobe.com/2011/11/24/christopher-busby-sells-useless-overpriced-anti-radiation-pills/

  20. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you make this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz reply as I’m looking to design my own blog and would like to know where u got this from. appreciate it from the start!Thanks!

  21. reader x says:

    steve, who cares about the ostrich myth you are one pathetic american dude. did you know that westinghouse which is also partly jewish and japanese is trying to build more of these in this world. jesus what the f are they thinking. anyone with the right mind should have some freakin common sense. TEPCO and the japanese government, oh i forgot, that goes for all the government’s that have or want nuclear powerplants and weapons are just dumb.
    this guy should get more support from the media. did you know that the media is controlled by the government of japan. which is why you don’t hear anything new really. all they do is repeat, remake and redistribute in different forms. when’s the last time you saw a big headline news on this here in japan. i bet you can’t remember. what a wonderful world when it the eastern world gets infected by the big bad western world.

  22. anon says:

    Ignorance is truly bliss. What he did would be pretty cool if he took proper precaution but he’s not doing it. It not just his life that’s affected but everyone around him. Its not just the shortened life but the possibility of a painful existence. When the effects of radiation started to affect my Grandmother, she looked at me and said”I sometimes wonder if it better to just die”. That comment shocked me because she was extremely strong willed Samurai class woman. She dealt with her problems for more then seven years before is died My brother almost had a career ending side effect because he developed eye problems.
    The government and the Japanese people will have to foot the bill for his health care which could run in the 10s of millions for one person and that’s lucky for him because in the U.S. he might not even qualify for insurance or would have to pay premiums that would be so outrageous that he couldn’t afford insurance. My Auntie developed 3 different types of cancer, in the last three years, the last which is so rare and inoperable and insurance refuses to pay for the chemo pill which alone is $6,000.00 a month. The tests are another story and another several hundred thousand a year. Japan is now in financial straits and will have to raise taxes to cover its spiraling debt. It can ill afford to deal with the cost of its aging population as it is, which will mean more taxes on top of the doubled consumption tax in 2015.
    The Hibakusha are also discriminated against by regular Japanese society. Case in point , the famous actor/singer Fukuyama Masaharu in a moment of weakness admitted to being the son of the Hibakusha. This is a man who consistently is ranked among the most beautiful men in Japan. Well there was alot of back tracking and his handlers worked overtime to erase that comment from any public forum including wikipedia.
    If that article that piers has presented above is true, I guess I won’t be the only person who will need to lighten up because alot of views will change when people are directly or indirect affected.and believe me that’s NOT a wish because I too used to be just as ignorant.. With age comes reality and this man will not be looked at as The Buddha of Fukushima for saving animals but as a anti nuclear poster boy for any disease that he develops as a result of radiation poisoning.

  23. Linda says:

    Mr. Matsumura Is doing what all human caring people should be doing…caring for these left behind pets and animals of this devistated country. This is one of the worse disasters in human history, it is the obligation of
    the nuclear power plant and the Japanese goverment to to make this sad situation better for these poor starving,
    dying creatures of our planet. God Bless you Mr. Matsumura, whatever your religion is…I pray for you and your
    friends, who you have rescued and feed each day. May you stay healthy . And Shame on you Japanese government…You should do the RIGHT thing and get these animals out of there.

  24. Kevin N. Weinhold says:

    Anon – you sound like the type of person who would get mad at his mom for having birthed him, because it cost someone else money. Have some compassion so that people will know you are a Christian by your works.

  25. Kathryn says:

    I salute Mr. Matsumura for taking care of the animals, the land, his home for generations. Yes, it is sacrifice for what he truly loves. It is his choice, thank God! There are no other takers for hands-on, loving care of Fukushima. The Japanese social obligation to the group over individual choice is exactly why government sponsored vets would slaughter the animals in the most cheap and painful method and how a private nuclear industry could destroy the entire island arc of Japan. Group rule by absolute power over individual choice and common sense is happening all over the world. Most Japanese did not want nuclear power. The farmers know that ‘nuclear’ and ‘farming’ are not mutually exclusive in one land zone. Unfortunately, the power elite fancy themselves to be demi-gods who are not susceptible to the laws of nature. Nuclear energy is not a sustainable resource for earth life forms, no kidding.

  26. Mauibrad says:

    Mr. Matsumura should consider co-authoring a book about his experiences. I’m sure somebody could “ghost write” it with him over the internet and/or phone. If he needs a generator to get some electricity going, somebody could get it to him.

  27. Greyhawk says:

    In my country we have a saying- no good deed will go unpunished. I see there are those who would punish this man.

    I’m curious about the enormous spiders mentioned in the article. Are they naturally large or are they growing to unusual sizes due to mutation? Maybe Godzilla will arise out of the ocean after all. LOL

  28. maho says:

    The livestock and animals are also the victims of the disaster. J-government ordered Fukushima prefecture to euthanize the livestock in May 2011. However I believe a lot of them most of them had died due to starvation and thirst by the summer.

    Fukushima’s animal administration was way way behind the ones in Tokyo. They have not put high value on animals they keep or live with. (not all of them, some of them..) As a civilized country and people in the country chose humanitarian choice. If they can’t take care of them, rather than letting them go die of starvation, thirst, euthanize them.

  29. Julia Hashimoto says:

    Anon, Do you have a name? Spewing venom while cowering behind the title of “Anonymous” gives you zero credibility and your words indicate you are to be pitied. What a bitter, sad existence you must have.

  30. Jackie says:

    God Bless You Mr. Matsumura. You have chosen to be your own person, and live out your life in accordance with your choice of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, not granted by any man, but by God. For those of you that think he is being foolish, well, everything is not about “self.” When one truly lives for others, one finds that inner peace that eludes those chasing the almighty dollar/yen/euro, etc. He is a true example of what all humans should strive to be–selfless.

  31. Piers says:

    Hi InJM,

    Thanks for the link. You raise a good point that should be mentioned.

    I see the Japanprobe piece is a replication of an article written by George Monbiot, the environmental campaigner who decided to use Fukushima to promote nuclear energy.

    Please note that the Guardian has not allowed Busby the right to response. Busby has also twice offered to debate Monbiot in a public forum but Monbiot has refused (even though they live quite near each other).

    For Busby’s utube response to Monbiot and others see:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hwHfv1K_vA

    For a detailed response to Monbiot’s allegations centred on the science see:

    http://www.llrc.org/

    For an idea of why Busby is so unpopular, I recommend the following video from 2007 where Busby gives a devastating presentation at the Royal Society naming and shaming prominent scientists for scientific dishonesty:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOI-wpMlq28

    For an interesting discussion with Busby on radiation issues, including a bit more info on calcium tablets at the end see:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwYDPUszF4s

    For an interview with a Japanese blogger regarding the CBFCF see:

    http://fukushima-diary.com/2011/10/bn-interview-dr-c-busbypart1/

    Busby has since cut ties with the CBFCF see:

    http://fukusima-sokai.blogspot.com/2012/01/blog-post_04.html

    Of course, at the end of the day, it is down to the individual to decide for themselves on this issue (that is why I said “might want to consider ” not “should”). It should not be, but our collective ignorance is the result of decades of organized neglect. If one thinks the tablets are nonsense then please don’t take them.

    Personally, I take my lead from Masamichi Nishio, director of the Hokkaido Cancer Centre, who stated that one must proceed on the basis of ‘we don’t know so we must assume that it is dangerous’.

    Monbiot and those of his ilk assume nuclear accidents are safe. Perversely, I hope they are right, but I doubt it.

  32. chris p says:

    to ‘anon’

    People like you are the reason bureaucracies are stripping us of our freedoms. The man is an adult; he keeps to himself, but you simply cannot leave good enough alone. You’re a whiny, pathetic human who who’s probably afraid of his )or her) own shadow.

    Give it a rest and mind your own business.

  33. Rose says:

    Arigatou, Matsumurasan! You risk your life to save these animals. God Bless You!! As for anon, he is anonymous because he knows he is wrong. Matsamurasan has the right to choose his path. He is loving, and kind. anon is evidently not.

  34. LQ says:

    The “fallout deaths” story made me suspicious when I read the press release (which implied that they really wanted to include influenza and pneumonia deaths). Here is a small sampling of commentary on it:

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2011/12/20/researchers-trumpet-another-flawed-fukushima-death-study/
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2012/01/11/garbage-in-anti-nuclear-propaganda-out-the-14000-death-fukushima-lie/
    http://depts.washington.edu/geog/2011/12/excess-deaths-in-us-due-to-fukushima/
    etc. etc.

    (I am not in favor of nuclear power at our current level of technological know-how and protective abilities, for the record.)

  35. Nathalie-Kyoko Stucky N says:

    Dear readers and supporters,

    If you live in Japan and if you wish to support Mr. Naoto Matsumura in his struggle to keep the animals alive, please feel free to use his Japanese Bank account. With Japan Subculture we will soon fix a pay pal system to collect donation from abroad. Mr. Naoto Matsumura is currently fighting to either convince the Japanese government not to kill these pet animals, either to, at least keep the guts and intern anatomy to provide them to international scientific labs or universities in order to study them and collect data.

    This is Mr. Naoto Matsumura’s private bank account:

    東邦銀行 安積支店 普通 NO636789 松村直登
    Toho Ginko (bank), Asaka Shiten (branch), No 636789 , Matsumura Naoto

  36. Cynthia says:

    One of the animal symbols of Buddhism is the Phoenix. In an old Buddhist fable, the mother phoenix pulled
    flesh from her own body to feed her children…this action symbolizes the selfless nature of Buddhism. Mr. Matsumura is not only a Buddha, but he is also a selfless Phoenix. He knows that even if he wore a radiation suit that he would still absorb the radiation. His compassion for the animals takes precedence over his own life. This is the ultimate act of love. You anal people who are criticizing him….it is easy to criticize when you are not there. This is not about YOU….this is about a lone human who is sacrificing the duration of his life as a selfless act of true compassion. I say bless him.

  37. xiaoB says:

    You guys should give a break to anon.

    You just don’t seem to understand what he wrote, even if it s well explained… In a sentence “The road to hell is paved with good intentions. ”

    Considering anon’s experience of life, you may have to try to understand him before telling him to mind his own business. Also Japanese logic and judgement are a bit different from western mind, but still valid. Try to keep an open mind.

  38. Teresa says:

    Well I really liked the artical though it made me very sad to see the trapped dead animales, cows in stalls they could not escape, and bleeding and starving to death from too tight ropes. Sure seems to me that some other opption could have been employed, even if it meant killing them out right, or loosed to fend for them selfs. tough choices, tough solutions!!! But I just couldn’t bring my self to read on in the comments that followed. Who the
    H_ _ L do we think we are to judge the efforts…ANY EFFORTS to leand a kind heart and hand…You could do it better…no dought, and by the way what was the last act of selfless kindness you freely offered a needy soul. how dare we sit back and in judgement and do No Thing…Go Help Him Mr. lead appron. Did you think the act of sacrafice, of his very life might be a statement he feels is worthy of his very Life…Is there any thing you care that much about other than you. It’s gona coast you too much when he gets sick…how pathetic is that. Nuns lighting them selfs a blaze because thats how much it matters to them, do I agree, would I, could I? WHO CARES, It’s not mine to judge, It is mine to have empthy and care and a kind heart toward those who are will to stand for the good they believe in!

  39. another anon says:

    I vote anon is a fake.

    And talking of ‘fakes’, someone should be doing some research into a gaijin outfit called JEARS (Japan Earthquake Rescue Support) who took about $1,000,000 of Facebook followers to save animals after the Tsunami.

    It’s not fair to accuse all of those who got sucked in but there are big questions to ask where the money went.

  40. Chucky says:

    I agree with those of you that do not think he is a moron. Quite the opposite. Like Adelstein said, we all have to die. When you have a family farm and you are 52, where are you going to go? I too, want to pick the place where I die, if possible. Of course the exact time may be problematic. But again, he is no moron. He is really a Saint in civilian clothing.

    • Chucky-sama,
      An astute observation. No one knows the risks of exposure to low-level radiation and how long it will take to cause a fatal disease but anyone knows it is very hard to be homeless. He is a saint in his own way. And if I were him, I’d probably smoke as well.

  41. Lori Munn says:

    WE need to know the paypal account please

    • Nathalie-Kyoko Stucky N says:

      Dear readers and supporters,

      If you live in Japan and if you wish to support Mr. Naoto Matsumura in his struggle to keep the animals alive, please feel free to use his Japanese Bank account. With Japan Subculture we will soon fix a pay pal system to collect donation from abroad. Mr. Naoto Matsumura is currently fighting to either convince the Japanese government not to kill these pet animals, either to, at least keep the guts and intern anatomy to provide them to international scientific labs or universities in order to study them and collect data.

      This is Mr. Naoto Matsumura’s private bank account:

      東邦銀行 安積支店 普通 NO636789 松村直登
      Toho Ginko (bank), Asaka Shiten (branch), No 636789 , Matsumura Naoto

      The Paypal account will follow soon, please keep in touch with us.

  42. Tammy Lambert, Arizona says:

    Excellent story, I love this guy. I hope more people come and help in case he gets sick.

  43. Kamela says:

    How can people donate to him that live outside Japan? I was really moved by his deep sense of loyalty and love for his home and the animals of that village.

    • Nathalie-Kyoko Stucky N says:

      Dear readers and supporters,

      If you live in Japan and if you wish to support Mr. Naoto Matsumura in his struggle to keep the animals alive, please feel free to use his Japanese Bank account. With Japan Subculture we will soon fix a pay pal system to collect donation from abroad. Mr. Naoto Matsumura is currently fighting to either convince the Japanese government not to kill these pet animals, either to, at least keep the guts and intern anatomy to provide them to international scientific labs or universities in order to study them and collect data.

      This is Mr. Naoto Matsumura’s private bank account:

      東邦銀行 安積支店 普通 NO636789 松村直登
      Toho Ginko (bank), Asaka Shiten (branch), No 636789 , Matsumura Naoto

      The paypal account will follow soon! Please keep in touch with us.

  44. japanimal says:

    hi! have you any news on the creation of a paypal account for M Matsumura?? we are all eager to know about it!!
    could you let us know on this page and also by mail?
    thank you. Lots of friends groups on facebook are waiting for that information.
    Thanx for the article and pictures.

  45. Lakhika says:

    If one live only one day and do good things, he is like lived hundred year. If one live hundred year and doing nothing good and insulting for people for doing good for others, he is like already dead.This person is not too much attached to his life and doesn’t fear for death as most people commented here. He will always protect by his good karma. But we wont you to live healthy and long life so take all actions to protect yourself while working and living there.

  46. Vijay says:

    He is a saint. I am in awe.

  47. Roeland cohen says:

    Blessings for this animal angel!

  48. SD says:

    This man is a hero. His courage and compassion is a shining example to us all. – Publisher, Great Mystery Publishing

  49. christine says:

    Wow. He’s a saint. I wish him and his animal companions much health and happiness. Tepco people are misguided and heartless people with only their careers as their priority. Shame on you Tepco owners and employees! Shame on you!!

  50. Christine says:

    God Bless this MAN and VOICELESS that he cares for.

  51. mohit says:

    he is the true living legend .

  52. Hello there I am so glad I found your website, I really found you by mistake, while I was searching on Bing for something else, Nonetheless I am here now and would just like to say kudos for a remarkable post and a all round enjoyable blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to look over it all at the moment but I have bookmarked it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a lot more, Please do keep up the superb work. Nice One!

  53. Angel says:

    May those in Power, bow to this man and learn the true nature of being Human. Godbless you for your steadfast and real response to this hideous crisis xxx

  54. Angel says:

    May those in Power, bow to this man and learn the true nature of being Human. Godbless you for your steadfast and real response to this hideous crisis xxx

    • Pupun says:

      Oh crap! Hope I’m not giving the imsoepsirn that I expect competence. Quite the opposite.I’d find their willful ineptitude amusing if it wasn’t so harmful to innocent people.I’ve even tried to help:Dose Rate = MPHDose = miles travelled.They all know how to drive, so now they’re all trained in reporting radiation.

  55. Peter says:

    This is again one of the “greet wonders created by modern men….” Hale Hale & Ode to Mr Matsumura. I wish him all the best for now and the future.

  56. Gwapa says:

    A truly live Buddha

    • Ricky says:

      That’s a good account. I sancned headlines a few days ago about these guys and the death from overwork issue, but hadn’t read up on it yet. Dang, I wish they could get some relief workers to come and help them out.

  57. Peter Schönen says:

    Naoto you are a truly living bodhisatwa!
    You see all that suffering,
    you have the opportunity to do something with it
    you feel responsibel for living beings and
    you act for stopping the suffering
    inspite of the risk of a early death.
    May be you think: “What does my early deaths matters compared to all that suffering i can stopp while I am still living”!
    My hope is that your action results in inspiration in the people that hear about you to act agains suffering of all beings by using time, money and workingfource for å world with less suffering in all feeling beings!

  58. sandra hall says:

    This mans immune system will resist radiation, and he will live to the age of his father.
    we in the west can only watch in awe and take his example.

  59. Kathy Turtle says:

    May the Great Spirit give this man good health for him self and good health and support for his animals. Bless him and his work. xxx

  60. glenn davidson says:

    He is a true Boddhisattva, a living Buddha, a remarkable man who forsakes his own health for the welfare of other living beings. He is an inspiration to all mankind.

  61. Nanci Caron says:

    http://nancicaron.chipin.com/mypages/view/id/0ad8c4c959314a80
    If you wish to donate to a world-wide Chip In fund for Mr. Matsumura, please click on the link above.
    Thank You for caring!

  62. Дима says:

    Great Man
    Великий Человек

  63. What are the bank details for international transfers?

  64. ruth says:

    I’m in awe

  65. Steven Starr says:

    Please ask Mr. Matsummura not to eat anymore mushrooms or berries from the contaminated zones. Mushrooms bioconcentrate radiation, especially Cesium-137, to levels many, many times higher than levels found in the soil. Eating these will guarantee that he will become ill. Cesium-137 is not uniformly concentrated in the body, but is instead selectively sequestered in the vital organs, especially in the heart, endocrine, spleen, liver pancreas and kidneys. Berries also concentrate the Cs-137 . . . see http://www.chernobyl-today.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=66:bandajevskiunscearreuters&catid=19:news&Itemid=35&lang=en

    • I’ll suggest that to him. He may listen. Thank you.

    • Nathalie-Kyoko Stucky N says:

      Dear Steven Starr, thank you very much for your comment. Don’t worry, Mr. Matsumura is not eating the mushrooms, he is aware of the internal exposure risks, and he is eating cup noodles with boiled mineral water and cans most of the time.

  66. Rodolfo Luis says:

    Just beautifull! Thanks Naoto Matsumura!

  67. lilay says:

    hello mr. matsumura, im 11 years old and my big sister is always telling me stories about you being a super hero. i wanted to give you the money i saved in my piggy bank but i know its not enough so me and big sister are saving money so that one day we can send it to you! :)) but it will take a while because we dont have lots of money 🙁 i got sad so my big sister promised that she will do good in college and get a good job and when she gets her first money i want her to send it to you instead of buying me new toys. but 3 years is a long time=( i made you a card but i dont know how to send it to you so i guess i have to wish my favorite super hero good luck until me and big sis can really help.

    • I will let Mr. Matsumura know that you and your sister admire him. I’ll give Mr. Matsumura a donation and let him know that you two wanted to donate money to him but didn’t know how to send it to Japan. It’s very nice of you to save up for him. I think in three years things should be better.
      If you send a photo of your card, I’ll get it to him.

      Thank you for writing and caring.

  68. The University of Maryland Medical Center Website Complimentary Medicine- Ginger
    November 2008 and Complimentary Medicine-Peppermint March 2009.
    In recent years, the emergence of alternative medicine and traditional medicine has brought research and the
    use of ginger back into the mainstream fold. Ginger roots can
    be peeled, sliced and simmered in water and sugar to make a delicious candied-ginger
    treat.

  69. それがあることが判明、偉大な 動機 そのため。 ブートのラップし、結んで tasseled スエード対照的な関係は、を満たす で、入り口。

  70. top wine says:

    Very shortly this web site will be famous among all blogging and site-building people, due to
    it’s good articles or reviews

  71. Good day! I simply wish to give an enormous thumbs up for the good data you’ve right here on this
    post. I might be coming again to your weblog for extra soon.

  72. Lonnie says:

    Thanks for finally talking about > The Buddha of Fukushima’s Forbidden Zone:
    A Photo Essay : Japan Subculture Research Center < Loved it!

  73. lisa says:

    also ich finde es sehr schön wie er seine Tiere liebt und durch das er schon im höheren alter ist hat er volkommen recht das er in 30-40 jahren sowieso sterben würde …ein grosser respekt

  74. Joel says:

    Good man.

  75. karaj says:

    original song about fukushima, and the ‘buddha of the forbidden zone’ who stayed behind after it was evacuated, to care for the abandoned animals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPHY-XYH6is

Trackbacks
Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Et puis j’essaie de penser à ce qu’il faut faire pour le reste de mes jours »…Via http://www.japansubculture.com Partager cet […]

  2. […] Japan Subculture Research Center – This is the story of Naoto Matsumura, Tomioka City, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan–the last man standing in  Fukushima’s Forbidden Zone. He will not leave;  he risks an early death because his defiance of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and the government is his life now. He is not crazy and he is not going. He remains there to remind people of the human costs of nuclear accidents. He is the King of The Forbidden Zone; its protector. He is the caretaker or empty houses, a point of contact for those citizen who can’t return. He takes care of the animals, “the sentient beings”, that remain behind because no one else will.  He is the Buddha of the forbidden zone. […]

  3. […] web. Si quieres seguir leyendo la historia te invito a visitar la noticia en inglés en la web de Japansubculture.com, una lectura muy amena e […]

  4. […] a link between the area and those who had to leave. He no longer has electricity or running water. The article at Japan Sub Culture details Matsumura’s survival tactics to live without a community, most utilities and surrounded by radiation. He has taken some steps to […]

  5. […] Buddha of Fukushima’s Forbidden Zone: A Photo Essay (Graphic Pictures) http://www.japansubculture.com/2012/01/the-buddha-of-fukushimas-forbidden-zon&#8230; Share this:PrintFacebookEmailTwitterStumbleUponRedditDiggLinkedInLike this:LikeBe the first to […]

  6. […] of radiation in order to take care of the many abandoned animals in the region, as related in this article; excerpt follows: The refugees from Fukushima (Tomioka) have abandoned their houses, their […]

  7. […] Japan Subculture Research Center. Rate this: FacebookLike this:TetszikJelezd elsőként, hogy neked ez tetszik: post! […]

  8. […] Japan Subculture Research Center. Rate this: FacebookLike this:TetszikJelezd elsőként, hogy neked ez tetszik: post! […]

  9. […] Japan Subculture Research Center. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  10. […] зони навколо реактора виїхали всі місцеві жителі, крім однієї людини. Фермер Наото Мацумура (Naoto Matsumura), якому 52 роки, […]

  11. […] the scene he is dealing with, there are many more photos and the full story can be read here: The Buddha of Fukushima’s Forbidden Zone: A Photo Essay. Mr. Matsumura is willing to live in a nuclear wasteland to take care of the 400 cows, 60 pigs, 30 […]

  12. […] A photo essay of Naoto Matsmura’s story  | Japansubculture.com […]

  13. […] asked about his views on the anti-nuclear protests, Naoto Matsumura, aka the Buddha of Fukushima said: “Fight until at least 5 people get arrested, if you don’t fight until arrests take place, […]



Leave A Comment