Ceremonies are held April 20 at J-Village to mark the full resumption of operations as well as to celebrate the opening of a nearby train station on the JR Joban Line. (Video footage by Koichi Tokonami and Masahito Iinuma.)

The J-Village sporting complex on April 20 returned to its full, former self as a training ground for future soccer stars.

For eight years after the 2011 triple meltdown at the nearby Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, J-Village was used as a makeshift base for dealing with the aftermath of disaster and start of decommissioning work. At that time, the sprawling complex straddling the Fukushima Prefecture towns of Naraha and Hirono was used as a parking lot and storage area for materials to be used at the Fukushima plant. Temporary quarters were constructed at a soccer stadium within the complex's grounds for the many workers who were shuttled to the nuclear plant.

But as those facilities were moved either to the Fukushima plant or other areas in the vicinity, work began at J-Village two years ago to restore it to its former role.

On April 20, a ceremony was held to mark the reopening of the complex and a new nearby train station along the JR Joban Line.

Local residents hope J-Village will continue to serve as a symbol of rebuilding in the area since it is scheduled to serve as the kick-off point for the Olympic flame relay next year.

J-Village opened in 1997 as the nation's first soccer national training center. The national team held training sessions there to prepare for matches.

Some operations at J-Village were resumed from late July 2018, but the complex was restored to its original state for the April 20 resumption with nine soccer pitches, a hotel and stadium.

However, the long void has affected business. In the eight months since operations partially resumed, J-Village had about 200,000 users. Before the nuclear disaster, half a million visitors converged on the facility over the course of a year.