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5 years after earthquake and tsunami, lost keepsakes await return to owners

Stuffed toys lost during the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami line shelved at the "Omoide no shina tenjijo," or "keepsakes exhibit hall," in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, in this recent photo. (Mainichi)

NAMIE, Fukushima -- In this town near the Fukushima nuclear plant is a room filled with the somber miscellany of the aftermath of a disaster: toys, photos, Buddhist mortuary tablets -- all things lost in the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, and all awaiting to be reunited with their owners some five years later.

    Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, was hit hard by the March 2011 tsunami, and remains vacated due to the Fukushima nuclear crisis. Serious work to clear the rubble left by the disaster began only in July 2014, and the personal belongings uncovered have been put on display at the town's "Omoide no shina tenjijo," or "keepsakes exhibit hall." The hall, operated by cleanup contractor Hazama Ando Corp., opened in July 2014 in a former gift shop along National Route 6.

    As of October 2015, the exhibit had welcomed 2,650 visitors, and 1,431 items had been returned to 437 people. Staff members are continuing to photograph the remaining items and log their details in a database. The exhibit is open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Telephone inquiries can be made at the local Hazama Ando office at 0240-24-0100 (in Japanese).

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