Catching his breath on the way up a rocky path leading to the summit of Mount Toratori, Keisuke Kume points to patches of snow along the trail.

“There’s always quite a few animal tracks around here,” says the resident priest at Yamatsumi Shrine, a centuries-old institution located on the northern outskirts of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture.

The wildlife population here has flourished since its residents were forced to evacuate following the triple meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant 12 years ago.