Stab Magazine | Locals Are Still Surfing In Fukushima (Despite Radiation)

'Wildcard - The Moana Jones-Wong Story' Premieres December 6


Locals Are Still Surfing In Fukushima (Despite Radiation)

“I put on sunscreen against the sun, but I haven’t found anything against radiation.”

news // Oct 4, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

It’d be difficult to forget the devastating Fukushima disaster of 2011. March 11 saw Japan hit with a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, which then generated a tsunami off the coast, killing 18,500 people. The wave also hit the Daaichi nuclear power plant, causing a level-7 catastrophe equivalent to the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown. All in all, a brutal time for the country.

The resulting radiation contamination was… wild. Over the last five years, around 50,000 people have worked continually to decontaminate the plant and stop the leaks (they remove between five and 30cm of contaminated soil every day, placing it in plastic bags, which are then stored on the outskirts of town until they can figure out a better solution. Yeah, radiation sure is a tricky sonofabitch).

Despite of all this, surfers still paddle out daily at Tairatoyama beach, a prefecture of Fukushima 50 clicks from the nuclear plant, even though radiation is still present in the water and sand, and hundreds of bags of contaminated sand are piled on the beach.

60e59f6d299b41be83c82fa2fd583450 8

You don’t need to know Japanese to know that that sign says Restricted Area. Photo: Eric Lafforgue/Al Jazeera

“I put on sunscreen against the sun, but I haven’t found anything against radiation,” one surfer told Al Jazeera.

“I come to Tairatoyoma beach and surf several times a week,” says another local. “It’s my passion. I can’t stop surfing.”

I can feel that. But, radiation is savage: An employee of the nuclear plant said that he’d never swim at Tairatoyoma because the water is too contaminated – five of his friends who work at the plant now suffer from brain damage. Though, that’s done nothing to change the mentality of the local surf populous: “We will only know the true consequences of our time in the water 20 years from now,” believes one local.


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

Watch: Torrey Meister’s Gunslinging SEOTY Entry

"Bull-riding is such a great warmup for surfing big waves."

Dec 6, 2022

Guess Who Else Just Got Invited To The Vans Pipe Masters

3 more withdrawals, and 3 more exciting replacements.

Dec 6, 2022


‘Buying Double Cheeseburgers, Acting Like He’s Hit Some Sections Today’

RAGE 400 drops ft Noz, Chun, Creed, Vinny, Jel, Wado + others!

Dec 5, 2022

What’s Happening To Orange County’s Sand, And Is It Worsening The Waves At Lowers?

Read this to upgrade your understanding of your local beach break and coastal environment.

Dec 5, 2022

Here Are The 15 People Who Qualified For The 2023 CT

After seven events and much groveling, 10 men and 5 women will officially be CT…

Dec 3, 2022

An Ode To Aussie Chick Pros From The Nineties 

A celebration of stoicism, resilience, grit, core lordship, and unconditional love.

Dec 3, 2022

Update: John John Flushes Everyone Down The Haleiwa Toilet Bowl

And the CT qualifications for 2023 are set.

Dec 3, 2022


Riaru Ito Is Cooler Than His Cucumber Garden

Meet our passion pick for the Vans Pipe Masters.

Dec 2, 2022

5 New Surfers Confirmed For The Vans Pipe Masters

Who's out, who's in?

Dec 2, 2022

Unlocked: Kael Walsh, Rolo Montes, And Al Cleland Jr In ‘Saturn’

Quik’s new 20-minute surf film is so good you’ll want to burn a DVD of…

Dec 2, 2022

How Surfers Get Paid, Episode 4

The energy drinks are here. They’ve got millions of dollars, and they want your head.

Dec 2, 2022

‘Saturn’ Orbits Into Southern California

Quiksilver's newest film made landfall in Encinitas, and we were there to document the occasion.

Dec 1, 2022

The Vans Triple Crown Of Surfing Returns In 2023

Can anyone beat John Florence and Carissa Moore in a three-week window?

Dec 1, 2022

What Will Airs Look Like In 10 Years?

The final installment of our editorial exploration into the nuances of airborne surfing.

Dec 1, 2022


Can A South African Cavern Queen With No Pipeline Experience Do Well At The Vans Pipe Masters?

Sophie Bell will have a steep learning curve in Hawaii.

Nov 30, 2022

After Years Of Tragic Shark Attacks, Surf Competition Returns To Reunion Island — And A CT Event Could Follow

"We compete at J-Bay and Margarets where there's the same problem." -Johanne Defay

Nov 30, 2022


Sharing Tubes And Hummus In The Middle East’s Surfing Jewel: Israel

No Contest does Tel Aviv!

Nov 29, 2022


Joao Chianca Wants A Pipeline Rematch With JJF

And ain't afraid to ride more foam to do it in the Vans Pipe Masters.

Nov 29, 2022