The rice paddy on the edge of Iitate village is 30km back from the coast, framed by steep forested hills, and we stop here briefly because the scene is so strangely heraldic.
At first glance, this looks like any other rural Japanese town in late summer, but it isn’t any more. The precise geometries of the fields are softened with neglect and waist-high weeds. Two empty police cars sit out front of the vacant community hall. Crickets hum in the mid-day humidity, in sleepy counterpoint to the rumble of diesel engines. A work team of several dozen men in white masks and overalls tend a slow assemblage of earthmoving equipment out in the field, but this is something other than agriculture.
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