The Fukushima plant meltdown following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami of 2011 was one of the worst nuclear disasters in history. Today, there’s an area of about 143 square miles that’s still part of the nuclear exclusion zone deemed unsafe for humans to live in. That hasn’t stopped urban explorers from passing through and documenting some of the vehicular ruins that exist within.
What was found Exploring the Unbeaten Path, a YouTube channel, will make any car enthusiast weep. There’s everything from a 1960s Mazda Carol to a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII. The evacuation was so quick that many of the cars were left unlocked. It was likely that many owners did not realize they’d never be able to return to their homes. Particularly sad are a formerly pristine S15 Silvia, Celica GT-Four, and a Eunos 800 (aka Mazda Millenia).
There are entire shops that have been left behind. One seems to have specialized in American cars, with a deserted Lincoln Town Car and Chevy Impala lowriders parked outside. There’s even a repatriated USDM Nissan 240SX 5-speed hatch with fewer than 27,000 miles on the odometer.
So why have these cars been simply left to rot? Unfortunately, the metal they’re made of is contaminated. In the case of a Datsun Violet rally car, it’s giving off 0.45 microsieverts of radiation. According to the videographers, a car has to read less than 0.30 microseiverts to be legal for export.
Still, that hasn’t stopped some people from moving the cars, or pieces of them. The videographers have returned to the Fukushima exclusion zone four times and documented how one R32 Skyline GT-R has had some parts scavenged. At another shop, an AW11 Toyota MR2 and other vehicles have disappeared altogether, fate unknown. Some of the cars have been moved so that they can be scrapped. At one field, cars lined up for the crusher included a Honda S2000, X90 Toyota Mark II, and 200-series Land Cruiser.
While nothing can compare to the human toll of the disaster, these cars stand as a reminder of the tragedy. They’re not your average kei commuters. As enthusiast cars they’re inherently lovable, and were clearly once cherished by their owners.