There is a prepublication offer from travel publisher Lonely Planet for a free download of a chapter from its forthcoming 2013 guide book to Japan.
The chapter covers the northern third of Japan’s main island of Honshū. This region of Tōhoku experienced the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, and the meltdown of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.
The chapter covers not just the typical tourist attractions — it also offers information on how to volunteer in the recovery effort.
Lonely Planet writer Rebecca Milner visited the region to research updates to the Japan guidebook.
She reports that area of the coast hit by the tsunami is still in rubble, but that the inland areas that were affected only by the earthquake have largely recovered. Of course there is still a 20-km exclusion zone around the nuclear power plant.
Honshū, is much as it’s always been – an enchanting land of rugged mountains, hidden hot springs and ancient folkways – and is very much open for travel… Infrastructure, excepting the coastline, is fine and visitors will find themselves welcomed with not just the usual Japanese hospitality but with warmth and gratitude. Far more damaging than the earthquake, for most of the region, was the sudden absence of tourists.
The truth is, the northeast coastline of Japan has long been one of the most remote, and poorest, regions of the country, populated by fishing villages and small to medium-sized, largely working-class, cities. Aside from Sendai and Matsushima, the coast sees few travelers, both domestic and international ones; after Matsushima, the typical tourist path heads inland for the temples of Hiraizumi and the bucolic Tōno Valley.