1 Janvier 2017
January 1, 2017
Evacuees from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident have rung a bell at a Buddhist temple in their hometown to welcome the New Year and to pray for restoration from the disaster.
About 100 former residents of Namie Town gathered at Daisho-ji Temple in Kitakiyohashi district before noon on Saturday, New Year's Eve.
Head priest Atsuo Aota read out a sutra before the evacuees, now living in and outside the prefecture, took turns ringing the bell.
Such ceremonies usually take place on the night of New Year's Eve in Japan. But it is no longer possible in Namie as nighttime access to the town is restricted due to evacuation orders that have been in effect since the nuclear accident.
Aota, who is an evacuee himself, said he prayed for the happiness of the evacuees. He added that he will keep the bell-ringing tradition alive in his hometown.
One of the participants, Shigeko Watanabe, said she was glad to have tolled the bell in her home community. She said people are still not allowed to live in the town but that she hopes its former residents will retain their bonds through the bell-ringing and other temple rituals.