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Pictures | Wed Mar 11, 2020 | 4:45am IST

Fukushima dreams: a baseball star, a father and their shattered town

Ryoma Ouchi,18, who was an ace pitcher on the Fukushima Commercial High School baseball team, prepares for a workout at the clubhouse of the team in Fukushima, Japan, February 21, 2020. "I know a lot of bad things happened because of the disaster, but for me, I adapted and really developed as a player," says Ryoma. Even the year he and his classmates spent indoors because of fears over radiation was not wasted because the lack of exercise "fattened him up" and later made him stronger, he says. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Ryoma Ouchi,18, who was an ace pitcher on the Fukushima Commercial High School baseball team, prepares for a workout at the clubhouse of the team in Fukushima, Japan, February 21, 2020. "I know a lot of bad things happened because of the disaster,...more

Ryoma Ouchi,18, who was an ace pitcher on the Fukushima Commercial High School baseball team, prepares for a workout at the clubhouse of the team in Fukushima, Japan, February 21, 2020. "I know a lot of bad things happened because of the disaster, but for me, I adapted and really developed as a player," says Ryoma. Even the year he and his classmates spent indoors because of fears over radiation was not wasted because the lack of exercise "fattened him up" and later made him stronger, he says. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Kazuo Ouchi, 62, father of young baseball player Ryoma Ouchi, points to a family photograph hanging on a wall of their now-abandoned house after their evacuation caused by the March 11, 2011, earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, March 2. Like most parents, it's hard for him to believe that the boy in the picture is already 18 years old. Ryoma left the family's new home and his father only the night before, a few hours after receiving his high school diploma. He was headed to play baseball at a university hundreds of miles away, the first to leave the close-knit family. REUTERS/Mari Saito

Kazuo Ouchi, 62, father of young baseball player Ryoma Ouchi, points to a family photograph hanging on a wall of their now-abandoned house after their evacuation caused by the March 11, 2011, earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, in Iitate,...more

Kazuo Ouchi, 62, father of young baseball player Ryoma Ouchi, points to a family photograph hanging on a wall of their now-abandoned house after their evacuation caused by the March 11, 2011, earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, March 2. Like most parents, it's hard for him to believe that the boy in the picture is already 18 years old. Ryoma left the family's new home and his father only the night before, a few hours after receiving his high school diploma. He was headed to play baseball at a university hundreds of miles away, the first to leave the close-knit family. REUTERS/Mari Saito
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Ryoma Ouchi,18, who was an ace pitcher at Fukushima Commercial High School baseball team, takes part in a workout at the schools baseball field in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Ryoma Ouchi,18, who was an ace pitcher at Fukushima Commercial High School baseball team, takes part in a workout at the schools baseball field in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Ryoma Ouchi,18, who was an ace pitcher at Fukushima Commercial High School baseball team, takes part in a workout at the schools baseball field in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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An embroidered motto reading 'The title of monster is mine for the taking' is seen inside the baseball glove of Ryoma Ouchi during his workout at the school in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato

An embroidered motto reading 'The title of monster is mine for the taking' is seen inside the baseball glove of Ryoma Ouchi during his workout at the school in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato

An embroidered motto reading 'The title of monster is mine for the taking' is seen inside the baseball glove of Ryoma Ouchi during his workout at the school in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Ryoma Ouchi bows deeply to the baseball field after a workout in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Ryoma Ouchi bows deeply to the baseball field after a workout in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Ryoma Ouchi bows deeply to the baseball field after a workout in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, which will host the baseball and softball competitions during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, is seen in Fukushima, Japan, February 19. This summer, Olympic baseball and softball games will be held in Fukushima prefecture to showcase the region's recovery from the disaster. Billing it as Japan's "Reconstruction Olympics," organizers hope the Summer Games will repair the region's reputation on the world's stage.

But for thousands of evacuees displaced by the nuclear disaster, it's not so simple.

For Ouchi and his son Ryoma, the disaster marked a turning point: For one it was the end of the life he knew, for the other it was a beginning. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, which will host the baseball and softball competitions during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, is seen in Fukushima, Japan, February 19. This summer, Olympic baseball and softball games will be held in Fukushima...more

Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, which will host the baseball and softball competitions during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, is seen in Fukushima, Japan, February 19. This summer, Olympic baseball and softball games will be held in Fukushima prefecture to showcase the region's recovery from the disaster. Billing it as Japan's "Reconstruction Olympics," organizers hope the Summer Games will repair the region's reputation on the world's stage. But for thousands of evacuees displaced by the nuclear disaster, it's not so simple. For Ouchi and his son Ryoma, the disaster marked a turning point: For one it was the end of the life he knew, for the other it was a beginning. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Ryoma Ouchi takes part in a workout at the schools baseball field in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. Ryoma says he probably won't make it home for the Olympic games, what with his training for his university team. It's unlikely he'll ever return to live in Fukushima. There are no professional baseball teams here, and with nearly all of Ryoma's former classmates and friends gone from Iitate, there's nothing drawing him back to his hometown. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Ryoma Ouchi takes part in a workout at the schools baseball field in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. Ryoma says he probably won't make it home for the Olympic games, what with his training for his university team. It's unlikely he'll ever return to...more

Ryoma Ouchi takes part in a workout at the schools baseball field in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. Ryoma says he probably won't make it home for the Olympic games, what with his training for his university team. It's unlikely he'll ever return to live in Fukushima. There are no professional baseball teams here, and with nearly all of Ryoma's former classmates and friends gone from Iitate, there's nothing drawing him back to his hometown. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Ryoma Ouchi prepares for a workout at the clubhouse of the team in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Ryoma Ouchi prepares for a workout at the clubhouse of the team in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Ryoma Ouchi prepares for a workout at the clubhouse of the team in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Ryoma Ouchi walks inside the school in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Ryoma Ouchi walks inside the school in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Ryoma Ouchi walks inside the school in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Kazuo Ouchi walks down a hallway in his house that his family evacuated after the March 11, 2011, earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, March 2. REUTERS/Mari Saito

Kazuo Ouchi walks down a hallway in his house that his family evacuated after the March 11, 2011, earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, March 2. REUTERS/Mari Saito

Kazuo Ouchi walks down a hallway in his house that his family evacuated after the March 11, 2011, earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, March 2. REUTERS/Mari Saito
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Kazuo Ouchi drives by a former rice field that has been turned into a temporary storage site for radioactive debris in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, March 2. Years before they were evacuated from Iitate, a village of 6,500 people, Ouchi taught his son how to catch and throw, spending weekends cutting the grass in a field next to their house so Ryoma could play baseball with his friends.

Now that field, which six generations of the Ouchi family planted and tended to, has been turned into a dumping ground for hundreds of bags of irradiated soil and leaves. A whiteboard with a radiation reading printed in black font hangs on the locked gate. Extensive decontamination work has brought radiation levels down in the village. REUTERS/Mari Saito

Kazuo Ouchi drives by a former rice field that has been turned into a temporary storage site for radioactive debris in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, March 2. Years before they were evacuated from Iitate, a village of 6,500 people, Ouchi taught...more

Kazuo Ouchi drives by a former rice field that has been turned into a temporary storage site for radioactive debris in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, March 2. Years before they were evacuated from Iitate, a village of 6,500 people, Ouchi taught his son how to catch and throw, spending weekends cutting the grass in a field next to their house so Ryoma could play baseball with his friends. Now that field, which six generations of the Ouchi family planted and tended to, has been turned into a dumping ground for hundreds of bags of irradiated soil and leaves. A whiteboard with a radiation reading printed in black font hangs on the locked gate. Extensive decontamination work has brought radiation levels down in the village. REUTERS/Mari Saito
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Kazuo Ouchi shows an old photograph of his now-abandoned house after their evacuation caused by the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, at his new home in Fukushima, Japan, February 28. REUTERS/Mari Saito

Kazuo Ouchi shows an old photograph of his now-abandoned house after their evacuation caused by the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, at his new home in Fukushima, Japan, February 28. REUTERS/Mari Saito

Kazuo Ouchi shows an old photograph of his now-abandoned house after their evacuation caused by the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, at his new home in Fukushima, Japan, February 28. REUTERS/Mari Saito
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Kazuo Ouchi looks at old photographs of his children at their now-abandoned house in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, March 2. Remnants of a hastily abandoned life are everywhere in the house. In an upstairs room, dozens of photographs hang from the walls. In them, a cast of children, first toddlers, then teens and later young men in awkward tuxedos, smile from behind dusty plastic frames. REUTERS/Mari Saito

Kazuo Ouchi looks at old photographs of his children at their now-abandoned house in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, March 2. Remnants of a hastily abandoned life are everywhere in the house. In an upstairs room, dozens of photographs hang from...more

Kazuo Ouchi looks at old photographs of his children at their now-abandoned house in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, March 2. Remnants of a hastily abandoned life are everywhere in the house. In an upstairs room, dozens of photographs hang from the walls. In them, a cast of children, first toddlers, then teens and later young men in awkward tuxedos, smile from behind dusty plastic frames. REUTERS/Mari Saito
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An Olympics hat given to Ryoma Ouchi by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach is displayed at his home in Fukushima, Japan, February 28. REUTERS/Mari Saito

An Olympics hat given to Ryoma Ouchi by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach is displayed at his home in Fukushima, Japan, February 28. REUTERS/Mari Saito

An Olympics hat given to Ryoma Ouchi by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach is displayed at his home in Fukushima, Japan, February 28. REUTERS/Mari Saito
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A member of the Fukushima Commercial High School baseball team takes part in a workout at the school's baseball field in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato

A member of the Fukushima Commercial High School baseball team takes part in a workout at the school's baseball field in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato

A member of the Fukushima Commercial High School baseball team takes part in a workout at the school's baseball field in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Members of the Fukushima Commercial High School baseball team take part in a workout at the school's baseball field in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Members of the Fukushima Commercial High School baseball team take part in a workout at the school's baseball field in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Members of the Fukushima Commercial High School baseball team take part in a workout at the school's baseball field in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Members of the Fukushima Commercial High School baseball team take part in a workout at the school's baseball field in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Members of the Fukushima Commercial High School baseball team take part in a workout at the school's baseball field in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Members of the Fukushima Commercial High School baseball team take part in a workout at the school's baseball field in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Students of Fukushima Commercial High School walk inside the school in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Students of Fukushima Commercial High School walk inside the school in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Students of Fukushima Commercial High School walk inside the school in Fukushima, Japan, February 21. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, which will host the baseball and softball competitions during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, in Fukushima, Japan, February 19. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, which will host the baseball and softball competitions during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, in Fukushima, Japan, February 19. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, which will host the baseball and softball competitions during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, in Fukushima, Japan, February 19. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, which will host the baseball and softball competitions during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, is seen in Fukushima, Japan, February 19, 2020. Picture taken February 19, 2020.    REUTERS/Issei Kato

Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, which will host the baseball and softball competitions during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, is seen in Fukushima, Japan, February 19, 2020. Picture taken February 19, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, which will host the baseball and softball competitions during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, is seen in Fukushima, Japan, February 19, 2020. Picture taken February 19, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, which will host the baseball and softball competitions during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, is seen in Fukushima, Japan, February 19, 2020. Picture taken February 19, 2020.    REUTERS/Issei Kato

Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, which will host the baseball and softball competitions during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, is seen in Fukushima, Japan, February 19, 2020. Picture taken February 19, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, which will host the baseball and softball competitions during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, is seen in Fukushima, Japan, February 19, 2020. Picture taken February 19, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, which will host the baseball and softball competitions during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, is seen in Fukushima, Japan, February 19, 2020. Picture taken February 19, 2020.    REUTERS/Issei Kato

Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, which will host the baseball and softball competitions during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, is seen in Fukushima, Japan, February 19, 2020. Picture taken February 19, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, which will host the baseball and softball competitions during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, is seen in Fukushima, Japan, February 19, 2020. Picture taken February 19, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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