In the facility on the blue Pacific Coast, people wearing casual clothes and no dust masks walk under cherry trees in full bloom.

All hot meals made with local ingredients are served at 380 yen ($3.5) at a cafeteria. Cold drinks, snacks, sweets, and other amenities are available at a convenience store.

The scene is not of a popular tourist site, but the location of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, hit hard by the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami on March 11, 2011.

Accompanied by officials of its operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., a group of Kyodo News reporters were permitted to visit the power station earlier this month.

Six years have passed since the world's worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl crisis.

Efforts to remove debris tainted by radioactive substances and cover soil with construction materials such as mortar have helped decrease the radiation level in the Fukushima plant, allowing workers to wear regular uniforms at around 95 percent of the site.

Contaminated water in the facility has been recently stored in more watertight welded tanks in replacement of flange-type tanks made of steel sheets joined by bolts. The measure has reduced the possibility of water leakage.

Visitors can overlook the Nos. 1 to 4 reactor buildings from a hill about 80 meters away from the No. 1 unit. The Nos. 1 to 3 reactors suffered fuel meltdowns. Hydrogen explosions damaged the buildings housing the Nos. 1, 3 and 4 units.

On the hill, the radiation level in the air was 150 microsieverts per hour, less than the amount of radiation received during a round flight between Tokyo and New York. As long as people stand on the hill for 10 minutes with a helmet and a dust mask, there are no health effects, the operator said.

Workers once needed to change into tightly-woven protective clothing at the "J-Village" soccer training center, located about 20 kilometers away, before heading to the Fukushima complex. Burdens on them have been drastically eased.

Some 7,000 workers -- 6,000 workers from construction, electronics and machinery companies, as well as 1,000 TEPCO employees -- work at the power station to deal with the nuclear accident and pave the way for decommissioning all the reactors.

"Our near-term goal is to create a place where they can work without worries," Daisuke Hirose, a spokesman for TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Co., said.

There are 400 cherry trees in the facility. Before the disaster, there were 1,200 trees and local residents were invited to enjoy watching cherry blossoms every spring, Hirose said. Now, workers walk with smiles under a tunnel of the trees, saying "hi" to passersby.

In May 2015, the nine-story rest house, with meeting spaces and shower rooms, opened. A convenience store also started operations in the building last year.

At a cafeteria with around 200 seats, hot meals using ingredients from Fukushima Prefecture, ranging from a bowl of noodle soup to a set menu with stir-fried pork, are delivered from a central kitchen in Okuma, about 9 kilometers away from the plant.

"I used to eat cold rice balls. Hot meals make me happy and motivate me to work," said a worker having lunch at the cafeteria.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is located around 230 kilometers northeast of Tokyo. Its first reactor started operations in 1971. The facility is a 3.5 square kilometer site.

As radiation levels have decreased sharply in the facility, some 10,000 people, including journalists from the United States, Europe and Asian countries, have visited the Fukushima Daiichi power complex annually. Last year, high school students also visited.

After the two-hour tour, a radiation dosimeter carried by a reporter showed she was exposed to only 40 microsieverts, less than the amount of radiation from a chest X-ray.

Although the working environment has certainly improved, the fate of the Fukushima nuclear power plant is tenuous.

Decommissioning the crippled reactors is expected to take 30 to 40 years. The utility is aiming to begin taking out fuel debris from a first reactor by the end of 2021, but so far it has failed to even ascertain the condition inside the reactors.

A lot of rubble has remained in many buildings on the seaside, maintaining fears of the quake-tsunami catastrophe that struck northeastern Japan six years ago.

A frozen underground wall has had only limited effects to prevent groundwater from flowing in the reactor and turbine buildings, said nuclear regulators, indicating radiation-tainted water has been generated.

TEPCO is also struggling to dispose of garbage, such as used protective garments, gloves and socks. It has burned 1,500 tons of garbage while monitoring radiation levels of emitted smoke, but still had 70,000 cubic meters of garbage as of the end of February.

"By legislation, we are prohibited to take radioactive contaminated garbage outside the facility even after we incinerate it. We have to continue the fight against garbage and ash," Hirose said.

Public confidence in TEPCO has been shaky in the wake of the nuclear accident, and even now, nearly 80,000 local residents are forced to evacuate from near the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

"We have caused it. We have to make every effort to create a place to which people want to return. Nobody wants to live where the safety and security of workers are not ensured," Hirose said.

(All photographs taken by Ichiro Banno, Kyodo News)