NARAHA/HIRONO, Fukushima -- A sports festival was held here on Sept. 8 at "J-Village," the practice facility for the national soccer team, to commemorate the opening of a new domed training field.
Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, J-Village became an accident response center. The facility was reopened in July this year and a new all-weather domed training field with an artificial lawn pitch measuring 115 meters by 73 meters, the largest indoor training field in Japan, was opened at the site.
While it was raining on the day of the festival, local elementary school students and other related individuals took part in a relay race using a giant ball and a competition to see which team could toss the most number of balls in a net in a set time.
More than 40,000 residents in Fukushima Prefecture remain evacuated even though some 7.5 years have passed since the outbreak of the disaster. The reopening of J-Village is aimed at increasing the number of visitors to the prefecture. A facility worker said, "I want to revitalize the prefecture and hand it over to the next generation."
(Japanese original by Toshiki Miyazaki, Fukushima Bureau)