On a cold afternoon in late February, a group of mothers and children gathered at a makeshift community center near JR Momoyama Station in Fushimi Ward, Kyoto. In one room, volunteers were setting up dolls for the Hina Matsuri doll festival as a couple of kids played, watched carefully by their parents.

It's a familiar scene across Japan. But the center is surrounded by blocks of public housing filled with evacuees from Tohoku, especially Fukushima Prefecture, who have made Kyoto their new home — at least for now.

"If it's safe, I'd like to go anywhere, even abroad, to countries such as Australia. Places in Japan like Okayama Prefecture, which are very safe from earthquakes, are also a possibility, although I'm worried about even relocating to western areas due to the Chinese yellow sand," said a mother from the Kanto area who asked to remain anonymous. "We're like refugees."