Empty streets, abandoned schools, abandoned supermarkets and destroyed houses.
These haunting images show buildings in the cities near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on the east coast of Japan, eight years after it was hit by catastrophic collapse that forced people to flee for their lives.
An earthquake and tsunami with a force of 9.0 in March 2011 caused meltings at three of the six reactors in the plant. Radiation was emitted in the air, soil and ocean, forcing 160,000 residents who lived in the neighborhood to flee.
The creepy photos were taken by the Polish photographer Natalia Sobanska, who traveled to the coastal area near the factory to explore the abandoned buildings. Natalia spent two days with her husband before they decided to leave after triggering a silent alarm in an abandoned high school, surrounded by 24 police officers.
Natalia told MailOnline Travel: “When I first planned my trip to Japan with my husband, I was happy and excited that we were going to Fukushima. But my happiness turned into overwhelming sadness with every step I took in the empty streets. I like abandoned places, but it was so traumatic to see all these things in schools and in homes. When you are there, especially in the area that was hit by the tsunami, you are surrounded by the depth of the tragedy that took place there. It has broken my soul. & # 39;
Scroll down to see a selection of Natalia & # 39; s spooky images of her journey …
Photographer Natalia Sobanska traveled to Fukushima to take ghostly images of the abandoned buildings there. She took this picture in a ruined bookstore
Natalia said she wanted to travel to Fukushima because she was curious what it looked like after the tragedy
CD & # 39; s and DVD & # 39; s are piled on the floor, while some are left on the shelves in a music store
Another shot from the abandoned CD and DVD store. Natalia said: & # 39; It was very important for me to see with my own eyes what Fukushima looks like now and to document it & # 39;
This building that Natalia encountered in Fukushima had been a restaurant but is now filled with debris
Photographer Natalia took this eerie image of an empty arcade filled with Japanese Pachinko machines
Natalia spent two days exploring Fukushima. Her visit, with her husband, came to an end when they triggered a silent alarm in an abandoned high school and they were cornered by 24 police officers
Natalia explored the inside of an abandoned supermarket where the goods had just been left on the shelves
Electronic goods in an abandoned supermarket. Natalia said: & # 39; Some people who used to live there may return if the area where they used to live is now clean, but the sad truth is that most of them don't want to go after what happened there & # 39;
Natalia visited Fukushima during a three-week visit to Japan. Shown is a representation of watches that are still being destroyed in the abandoned supermarket
An earthquake and tsunami with a force of 9.0 in March 2011 caused meltings at three of the six reactors in the plant
The entrance to the abandoned supermarket in Fukushima. Natalia and her husband only visited abandoned places during their visit
Inside the gym and the theater of an abandoned high school. It was initially transformed into an evacuation point
A piano is in the middle of a music room. Natalia said: & I like abandoned places, but it was so traumatic to see all these abandoned things in schools and in homes & # 39;
Natalia captured this photo in a classroom on the first floor at school. She says the line on the wall indicates where the water reached after the tsunami struck
The chairs are still neatly under the desks and the work is still attached to the wall in this abandoned classroom
Natalia said: & # 39; When you get there, especially in the area where the tsunami strikes, you are surrounded by the depth of the tragedy. It broke my soul & # 39;
The gym has started to collapse in this abandoned school
Natalia said: I am a photographer and it is important for me to take artistic photos, but in Fukushima I did not want to look at them like in art. My goal was to show how it now looks and documents. & # 39; Depicted is the abandoned high school
Inside an abandoned computer classroom at the old high school. All equipment has been left in place
Natalia explained: & # 39; When I first planned my trip to Japan with my husband, I was happy and excited that we were going to Fukushima. & # 39; Depicted is the empty high school
Natalia discovered some abandoned houses in Fukushima, which she entered
A large window frame in this house in Fukushima has collapsed and lies on the floor with the rest of the rubble
Wedding dresses stay on hangers while others are strewn across the floor in this deserted wedding dress store
Racks with clothes on hangers have remained untouched in the clothing store
Wedding ceremonies used to be held in this room, but now resemble a scene from a horror film
Within a launderette that has remained untouched more than eight years ago since the Fukushima disaster
No cars & pedestrians can be seen in the empty streets. Natalia said: & # 39; My happiness to be there soon changed into overwhelming sadness with every step on the empty streets & # 39;
The entrance to the red zone – the part of Fukushima where the radiation is still high. Natalia says the area is monitored 24 hours a day
While walking through the streets of Fukushima, Natalia came across this house, which no longer has a front wall
A motorcycle is lying on the ground on wasteland outside of a row of abandoned houses
Natalia visited an abandoned car dealer, where the vehicles for sale could still be seen
A Mercedes car is parked in an otherwise empty parking lot next to an abandoned supermarket
Road to nowhere: more cars, including a classic Mini, are set up on a forecourt of a garage
A Lincoln car and a Chevrolet Impala are parked next to each other on the forecourt of the abandoned garage
This car is said to have transported coffins to funerals, but the hearse is now abandoned
THE FUKUSHIMA EXCLUSION ZONE – AND VISIT
An earthquake and giant tsunami in March 2011 caused three of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors to collapse, the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
Restrictions still apply in several towns closest to the factory, including Futaba, which were contaminated with radioactive plumes from the factory.
More than 40,000 people still cannot return home from earlier this year.
This aerial photo of September 4, 2017 shows Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant reactors, bottom right, Unit 1, Unit 2 and Unit 3, in the city of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, in northeastern Japan
However, evacuation orders in most of the original no-go zones have been canceled.
Authorities lifted the evacuation order for about 40 percent of the city of Okuma in March after aggressive remediation efforts – including removal of the topsoil and felling of trees – led to a significant decrease in radiation levels.
However, many people are reluctant to return home due to ongoing concerns about radiation, and have adapted to new jobs and homes after more than eight years away.
Only 367 people, or less than four percent of the population of Okuma, registered as residents in the two districts where the order was lifted.
A survey last year showed that only 12.5 percent of former residents wanted to return to their hometown.
In the meantime, various operators are now offering tours of the areas affected by the Fukushima disaster, including visits to Namie, Okuma and Tomioka.
Japan Wonder Travel insists that the excursion is completely safe because guests are exposed to only 0.001 millisievert of radiation.
The website claims that passengers on a flight from New York to Tokyo are exposed to 0.1 millisievert radiation – which means that the radiation exposure on the tour is 100 times smaller than on the flight.
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