Why I’m in Japan, Aside from Tourism: Spiritual Pilgrimage, Ceremony & Bearing Witness. + How I Prepared to visit the Fukushima Prefecture


Denial Knows no limits. Click image to read my disclaimer.

DISCLAIMER — Part of my reason for coming to Japan was not entirely what can be described as “tourism”, unless I’m taking “disaster tourism” to scandalous new heights…

(For the fallout maps I consulted before going to Fukushima, skip the introductory rant and go straight to “Going to Fukushima…” further below; or check my Fukushima versus Chernobyl fallout map comparison (from 2011).)   [Note: Many links become obsolete over time. Sorry if one or more your click on go nowhere at the time of your checking years after I post this.]

I came for various reasons, including spiritual ones:  both pilgrimage to sacred sites, as well as to conduct a series of ceremonies “to help end the nuclear age”.

I also wanted to know why Japan is acting so strangely and seemingly ‘in denial’ in response to the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear crisis.  I’m learning much and will offer more reflections on my findings in future blogposts.

  • This blogpost starts out with my spiritual-influenced ceremonial motivations, and goes into my physical preparations to visit the Fukushima Prefecture.

It may be a different story for money-blinded financial investors in nuclear power companies, but for most people on this planet, at least the ones I’ve met, it is the lack of transparency, the obvious rampant deception by the nuclear industry, and the government in collusion with this industry spreading utter lies about the true extent of the disaster, as well as the disgusting downplaying of its effects on humans and various other life forms… thát is harming Japan’s reputation.  Visiting Japan, I believed, would give me perspectives I can only gain from coming here.

In the bigger picture, my attraction to many things Japanese (and Tibetan, for that matter) goes back to childhood, and perhaps even beyond.   I recall reading about this innovative exploring island nation as a child in my native Belgium, where I grew up with Judo, starting at age 6, and was later introduced to elements of Shinto and esoteric Buddhism, which were incorporated in the American-Tibetan meditation ‘Dathün’ retreats I trained in (in the Shambhala-Buddhist tradition of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoché, a dear friend of the great Soto Zen master Suzuki Roshi).

Princess Mononoke poster. "...Se with eyes unclouded by hate..." CLick image to watch the Cartoon Network promo

Princess Mononoke poster.
“…See with eyes unclouded by hate…”
Click image to watch the ‘Cartoon Network’ promo

I still think of Japan as an upstanding peaceful nation, one with a fascinating and sometimes violent past. I think of its contribution to the world in the realm of the visual arts, martial arts, and spiritual art expressions.  I think of manga, and animation geniuses like Hayao Miyazaki and the production house ‘Studio Ghibli’.

Delusional or not, I also think of the early Samurai, when they were, aside from ferocious incredibly skilled martial artists, also… presumably… humble yet compassionately wrathful spiritual warriors, in a time before the “sacred mantra  strayed into Pon, and the yogis of tantra lost the insight of meditation”, to put it in the words of the Saddhana of Mahamudra.   

See also the shared links on my first blogposts in response to the quake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster: (March 29, 2011), “The Japanese are held in loving prayers.

A decade ago, I was also initiated in Usui Reiki, the Japanese energy healing practice popularized in the West.

And so here I find myself pondering the depths of aspects of ‘Shinto’ religion I assimilated into my own understanding of nature: acknowledging that the Kami, the sacred energies inherently permeating all of the phenomenal world, and people are not separate; that we all exist within the same world and share its interrelated complexity.

I wonder about a way out of this mess of materialism that is killing the biosphere…

Dorje Trollo, a wrathful manifestation of Padmasambhava, Thangka by Sherab Palden Beru

Dorje Trollo, a wrathful manifestation of Padmasambhava,
Thangka by Sherab Palden Beru

At the time of writing this blogpost I am in Kyoto…

Here in Japan, I ponder about those “ancient times”, long gone…  (except for perhaps in the hearts of a few dedicated practitioners…) when – at least in my imagination – the emperor’s sovereignty was uncompromised, fully in integrity and aligned with the highest sacred principles,  an inspiration to humble spiritual warriors throughout…

Did you see the dignified offering of a letter to the emperor expressing concern for the Children affected by the Fukusima nuclear disaster… being met with hostility, or how elements within Japan’s government aim to stiffle the expression of the obvious truths (yelling in background)?  …  Ugh.

My reflections always bring me back to myself: I must practice more diligently myself…

There is a chant I love, an invocation chanted in Shambhalian retreats, which I have recited at many places in Japan since I arrived.  It goes like this (excerpt, with my empahsis):

INVOCATION – Written by Dorje Dradül of Mukpo:

“He who has neither beginning nor end,
Who possesses the glory of Tiger Lion Garuda Dragon,
Who Possesses the confidence beyond words:
May the goodness of the Rigden King be present.

They who possess great wisdom, brilliant and profound,
Who are ever just and benevolent to their subjects,
Who subjugate their enemies and are supremely powerful —
By the golden yoke of their imperial rule
They ward of döns of plague, famine and war —
Gesar Norbu Dradül, Ashoka Maharaja,
Emperors of Japan, China, and so on:
May the goodness of the ancestral sovereigns be present.

The ones who are nobly born as Mukpo clan,
Who defeat the eclipse of the Great Eastern Sun
And sharpen the blade of primordial Ashe:
They are victorious over all their enemies, the forces of materialism.
They are fearless in the midst of barbarian arrogance
They inspire the savages of the setting sun
Into the sophistication of the Great Eastern Sun:

Radiating confidence, peaceful,
Illuminating the way of discipline,
Eternal ruler of the three worlds:
May the goodness of the Great Eastern Sun be present.”

(NOTE:  If practice and study in the Shambhala tradition appeals to you, I suggest you first read ‘Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism‘, and then explore the offerings of Shambhala International’s ‘Shambhala Mountain Center‘ or other centers, such as ‘Dharma Ocean‘;  Both centers are in Colorado (United States).   Note:  I am not per se affiliated with either, simply did many retreats at both.)

And somehow, through all those influences, way back in in spring 2011, I believed that ‘those leading Japan‘, its supposed political leaders, truly cared for its citizens.  Naive perhaps, but I certainly thought Japan would do better than the totalitarian Soviet Union’s handling of Chernobyl.  I thought Japan would honor its incredible creative potential and unleash its ability to create complex and sophisticated networks for organization and adaptation to difficulty in ways never seen before.  The speed with which Japan arises from disasters is usually amazing.   Honestly, I am confident we can still turn this whole planetary mess around.  But something MUST change…  And it hasn’t yet…

This series of nuclear crisis are revealing a dark side…  one that, in my view of things, will not shift through mere politics or engineering efforts…  This dark side is certainly not only present in Japan.  It appears rampant throughout the industrialized world.

” […] We speak on behalf of all Creation today, to communicate an urgent message that man has gone too far, placing us in the state of survival. We warned that one day you would not be able to control what you have created. That day is here.

Not heeding warnings from both Nature and the People of the Earth keeps us on the path of self destruction. This self destructive path has led to the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Gulf oil spill, tar sands devastation, pipeline failures, impacts of carbon dioxide emissions and the destruction of ground water through hydraulic fracking, just to name a few.

In addition, these activities and development continue to cause the deterioration and destruction of sacred places and sacred waters that are vital for Life. Powerful technologies are out of control and are threatening the future of all life.  The Fukushima nuclear crisis alone is a threat to the future of humanity.

Yet, our concern goes far beyond this single threat. Our concern is with the cumulative and compounding devastation that is being wrought by the actions of human beings around the world. It is the combination of resource extraction, genetically modified organisms, moral failures, pollution, introduction of invasive species and much much more that are threatening the future of life on Earth. The compounding of bad decisions and their corresponding actions are extremely short-sighted. They do not consider the future generations and they do not respect or honor the Creator’s Natural Law. We strongly urge for the governmental authorities to respond with an open invitation to work and consult with us to solve the world’s problems, without war. We must stop waging war against Mother Earth, and ourselves. […]” Read more.

I’ve touched on this as well to some degree in the blogposts “All that Glisters is not Gold…“, “‘The Darkest Dance’ – Archetypal Dynamics of the Nuclear Era“, “Ayahuasca Documentaries” and hinted at in-between solutions through gadgets like “Linear, Cyclical & Non-Linear Dream Time on the ‘i3T (Interactive Three Times) Watch’: Providing Diversified ‘Timely Signs’” and , more cynically in “Useless Disaster Information“, among others.

Japanese Mafia derails Democracy in Japan. Click image for article.

Japanese Mafia derails Democracy in Japan. Click image for article.

‘The situation’ is only becoming more acutely in-our-face apparent in Japan due to these radioactive and politically corrupt circumstances.  My impression is that those who are more aware in Japan have yet to burst through the wall of conformity and blind obedience to external authority (a formidable wall in Japan!).

The media, it seems, is just like in the the rest of the world largely controlled by moneyed elites who do not have Japan’s or the world’s best interests at heart.  Right now, it still appears as if the response has been scripted by a misguided group of ¥en-eyed mafioso, in control of both executive and legislative politics and Japan’s mainstream media, with the heavily-involved United States as a big brother, under the same ‘nuclear spell’.

It so sad…  the whole thing… A nuclear demon has been unleashed,  again in Japan…   This time, partially self-inflicted, spreading untold amounts of radiation all around the Northern Hemisphere, hundreds of Hiroshimas and Nagasakis combined.

112The signature of this disaster, far from under control, is still being seen across North America more than two years later.  Rain in the United Stated is often still laced with small amounts of radioactive fallout…  Although much uncertainty remains, many observations may be linked…  Whales off the Vancouver coast have mysteriously gone silent.  Star fish are falling apart due to sudden prevalence of a mysterious disease.  Sailers report on a dying ocean.  Seals show what might be radiation sores and hair loss.  On the American west coast a significant spike in hypothyroidism was observed.   In Japan, Thyroid cancer and early abnormalities are already rising.

And the Japanese government… LIESLIES, LIES, LIES, DECEPTION, DECEPTIONDENIAL, PROPAGANDA, and a disturbing rise of totalitarian fascistic laws attacking press freedom…  

!–> See also Washington’s Blog’s (Nov 6, 2013): “Japan Is Being Destroyed By Criminal Corporate Cronyism (Like the Rest of the World)

Please do not misunderstand: I do not mean to offend.  I came here because I LOVE JAPAN, I love these islands as I love this entire planet, its people and its cultures, just like I love North America, and the land I grew up in, but – likewise – I care little about all these areas’ misguided governments.  I believe we can do better when we’re brutally honest about uncomfortable facts, and dream bold beautiful dreams that do not require denial.

So, I’m sure I could keep going, but I try to stay focused on ‘why I came here’.  So after having already done ceremonies in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I prepared for…


Okay…, check this out: – physical reality plane (See different levels of perception)- for instance:  On various websites tourism is being encouraged (!!!) to regions that are anything but safe for children.   Take http://www.japan-guide.com/ for instance; it has this despicable “Visiting Fukushima Guide” (see here), where a map gives the impression that outside that “temporarily terrible no-entry zone”, all is fine…  “Fine enough” to lure unsuspecting tourists… Further below, I’ll compare this map to some other maps:

Source: http://www.japan-guide.com/list/e1208.html

Yellow-Green sure looks safe…   Source: http://www.japan-guide.com/list/e1208.html

Those levels are NOT “comparable to regular levels in other places around the world, like Denver, Colorado”… My goodness, in those other places the radiation is from DISTANT sources like cosmic rays, not from dust on the ground that can be inhaled, or that may end up in your food

This is not the 1950s anymore, (or so I fathom…).  There is now lots of evidence that low-level radiation from radionuclides is far more dangerous than their dose rate suggests.  See HERE, here, here and here, for starters.

Also, there have been many more releases of radiation, that are not incorporated into these fallout deposition maps, and are not reported when they occur.  For instance, there were almost certainly new criticality events this summer 2013 (see evidence of that HERE), and even 5000 miles away small amounts of radioactive fallout is coming down in North America, still (example, example,…).  You get my drift: the government and media are not telling the whole story.

Now, compare the above propaganda to a more honest presentation on a Safecast map:

Click for latest un-annotated version at http://gamma.tar.bz/maps/static/

Click for latest non-annotated version at http://gamma.tar.bz/maps/static/

An insanely contaminated area just south of Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture stands out for its heightened radioactive pollution.  See also Save The Children’s report on Nihonmatsu…  Like Fukushima City and other hot spots, it remains not only UN-EVACUATED, children aren’t even evacuated, and they’re also still growing food there, and encouraging tourism!   A closer look at some these areas, which the local and Japanese governments like us to believe are perfectly safe to visit or even live in…, shows they are lying.  Yes, some people will be fine.  Most even, likly.  Some people also survived the fallout from the nuclear bombings (which was only a fraction of Fukushima’s released radiation) and lived to old age.  Some people will indeed be okay, and good diet, good attitude and doing sport is most likely to help with that.

That does not make it right that many people will suffer due to terrible advice.

There are a large number of villages and even much of Fukushima City, as well as vast areas in and near Nihonmatsu, Motomiya, part of Koriyama and west of Sukagawa, among others, that ought to be evacuated.  At the very very least: declared off-limits for children.   (This appears rather obvious…)


Looks a little bit less appealing, doesn't it?

Looks a little bit less appealing than the tourism map, doesn’t it?

While the “dose rate” (in µSV/hr (microsievert per hour; or in CPM, Counts Per Minute) may seem relatively insignificant, as I mentioned here and in my Seattle-Tokyo Flight blogpost, these fallout deposition maps by the Japanese government (made in collaboration with US military early on in 2011, which I reported on as early as May 19, 2011) show that these relatively low doses actually correspond with dangerously contaminated fallout hotspots, with contamination levels not much below than what was the mandatory evacuation level for Chernobyl ( < 550,000 Bq/m^2.).  But these are averages, and it has been well-documented that deposition occurs in highly erratic patterns, causing certain areas to have much higher contamination levels than shown on such low-resolution maps.

Translating Japanese maps to color legends that are less deceptive, I converted these MEXT maps for Cs-137 and Cs-134 for UNEP map colors used fro contamination levels seen after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident.  Graphic by © Michaël Van Broekhoven, 2011.

Translating Japanese maps to color legends that are less deceptive, I converted these MEXT maps for Cs-137 and Cs-134 for UNEP map colors used for contamination levels seen after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. Graphic by © Michaël Van Broekhoven, 2011.

I’ve been following this disaster since it began, and, already back in spring and summer 2011, I made (rough estimate) comparison maps for ‘Chernobyl versus Fukushima’s fallout’ , which clearly showed that the dark orange, an area that includes the above mentioned non-evacuated areas, includes Cesium-137 deposition levels of more than 185,000 Bq/m^2 (becquerel per square meter.  See my Radiation Units page for more).  This implies localized hotspots well over the 550,000 Bq/m^2 (which has been confirmed many times, see archives of Ex-EKF and ENEnews)


When you keep in mind that 80% to 95% of Fukushima’s radioactivity flew to the east, mainly into the Pacific Ocean, away from Japan, and  the fact that contamination levels  in that part of  Japan are absolutely AS BAD in comparison as Chernobyl, the full extent of this ongoing disaster becomes more obvious. Comparison by © Michaël Van Broekhoven, 2011.

  • What to know before going?

There are foods that are helpful, and some best avoided if origin is unknown.  This is an excellent overview:

What You Should Be Doing NOW to Protect Yourself from RadiationEasy, Inexpensive Ways to Help Protect Your Family from Radiation

Wild mushrooms are best avoided if they come from contaminated regions, because they bioaccumulate cesium.  Some mushrooms are helpful, though; see above link.  Even as far away as California, wild mushrooms I had tested showed to contain 23 Bq/kg of Cs-137. (See test results here).

– It’s good to know which way the wind is blowing, as the plant still leaks, including into the air sometimes.

See my METEO page.  The day I went I checked, HERE,  and the wind was doing its common west-to-east blowing:

Sometimes a weatherman...

Sometimes a weatherman…

I’m not a credentialed expert, so if you are inclined to believe me, please do read MY DISCLAIMER.    That being said, take it with a grain of salt what I say as sincerely as I can in public:  – Don’t believe the lies: protect yourself from inhaling the radioactive dust and coastal radioisotopes-contaminated water vapor.  DO NOT bring your children into these areas.  Contrary to the baseless propaganda of corrupt governments around the world, many free-entry areas are not safe.  Consider the following:

Areas around supposedly non-leaking nuclear power plants have shown to cause increased incidences of child leukemia, indicating that the threshold for causing leukemia is MUCH lower than can be explained by the old external dose-based health effects model.   See this French Study, and this German Study.

Coastal areas contaminated by the Sellafield nuclear accident in the Irish Sea showed heightened levels of cancers, that can not be explained by the old model, as the dose rates remained low along the coast.  Ocean contamination off the Fukushima Coast is MUCH higher, and the releases of radioactive water has yet to be stopped.

How do you prevent radioactive fallout from entering your skin, getting inhaled or being somehow absorbed in your body:  You cover yourself completely in a protective suit, wear a carbon-filter face mask or similar gas mask, eat helpful foods (see above), and don’t eat food that was grown in the area, and immediately afterwards (or frequently) shower well and wash your clothes.   You may look a little funny, like I did, but this is the “better safe than sorry” look:

Tyvec cover-all suit + Israeli gas mask, total: $40-  ;-)

Greetings from Japan's Tourist Zone! November 2013 Self-Portrait by © Michaël Van Broekhoven, 2013

Greetings!  Off to Japan’s self-proclaimed “Tourist Zone”! – November 2013
Self-Portrait by © Michaël Van Broekhoven, 2013

And for current radiations levels, which by dose may be deceptive, but still give a clue about contamination levels, there are monitoring sites published online in near-real time:  See my Radiation Monitors, JAPAN pages.

Next: a first brief visit to Iwaki, a beach town in the Fukushima Prefecture…  [“LOL”]


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4 Responses to Why I’m in Japan, Aside from Tourism: Spiritual Pilgrimage, Ceremony & Bearing Witness. + How I Prepared to visit the Fukushima Prefecture

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  3. Pingback: Additional Ponderings Re. Pacific Ocean Ecological Crisis. Wondering about Effects of a speculated Fukushima-induced Polonium-210 (Alpha-emitting) surge’s on Sea Life. Iodine-131, Cobalt-60, Cesium-134 & Neobium-95 detected in Europe (May 2015!)

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