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As I stepped into the midst of a boisterous happy hour in the corporate sleekness of B2 Bluefin in Bala Cynwyd, it occurred to me that sushi in America has undergone one of the most dramatic image makeovers of any food I've ever seen.
Two decades ago, it was largely considered the exotic and luxurious domain of adventure eaters.
In dozens of towns, from the tiny fishing enclave of Ryoishi to the big industrial port of Ishinomaki and beyond to the coast of Fukushima, where some areas remain off-limits due to radiation from the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, the tsunami zones remain bleak wastelands.
Scattered along the coast are huge piles of rubble and stacks of smashed scooters and cars.
It also calls for using local timber to build new energy-efficient homes.
'If we can do it, we must do it,' said Toshinori Inada, a local official from central Japan who was just finishing a year long assignment in Rikuzentakata, where so many local officials died that those from other regions are needed to handle the huge workload of recovery and reconstruction.
Now, various small frontier-style enterprises such as restaurants, shops selling seeds and makeshift shopping malls are popping up in the tsunami zones.
One of the few projects to start up here so far, Granpa Farms, is an agrotechnology company from Kanagawa, near Tokyo, that has built eight dome-shaped high-tech greenhouses for hydroponic farming of lettuce and other greens.
Poor coordination between central government agencies and between Tokyo and local governments further complicates matters.
Rikuzentakata's post-tsunami landscapes of a year ago and now, a year later, differ little. The wind whips through derelict skeletons of the few concrete buildings yet to be demolished.
Utility poles stud roadsides and empty lots are littered with mundane odds and ends - kitchen strainers, skillets, laundry hangers, a rusted clock.
Ghost town: Towns such as Naraha remain too affected by radiation for residents to return for more than short visits two years after a powerful earthquake and tsunami wrecked Japan's Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant It remains unclear how effective the cleanup will be or how many people will eventually return to their homes, given fears over potential risks from the radiation and the lack of jobs in an area that depended mainly on farming, fishing and work at the now defunct nuclear plant.
Like tens of thousands of people who lost everything in the tsunami that pulverized Japan's northeastern coast two years ago, 83-year-old Hide Sato is living in one-room temporary housing, and longing for a home of her own.