From the ABC 7 Weather team

Google Maps adds Japan tsunami destruction to 'Street View'

December 14, 2011 - 01:24 PM
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The ruination of northeast Japan after the March 2011 tsunami is all too clear in these before-and-after shots taken by Google's "Street View" camera vans.

Google surveyed 27,340 miles of northeast Japan to bring you these terrible images of tsunami damage.

On Monday, Google unveiled its latest innovation, GoogleDisasterTour. Or so you might call the latest bundle of Google Maps "street view" images, which show the utter destruction of Japanese neighborhoods following the history-rocking March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The search giant had pledged earlier this year to document the aftermath of the catastrophe as a service to scientists and historians as well as the general public, who might not yet have comprehended the extent of the damage. Camera-toting vans chugged over 27,340 miles of northeast Japan, snapping 360-degree vistas of browned land that looks as if a colossal lawnmower had taken a whack at it. The images are also housed on a site called "Memories for the Future" (alternatively, "Build the Memory"), where you can switch between photos taken before and after the giant wave passed through. It's truly awful.

Here's what Google's Kei Kawai had to say about the project on the company's Lat Long blog:

A virtual tour via Street View profoundly illustrates how much these natural disasters have transformed these communities. If you start inland and venture out toward the coast, you’ll see the idyllic countryside change dramatically, becoming cluttered with mountains of rubble and debris as you get closer to the ocean. In the cities, buildings that once stood proud are now empty spaces.

In the bottom left corner of each image you’ll also see a month and year that tells you when a particular photograph was taken. When looking at images of the magnificent cities side-by-side with images of the ruins left in their place, this additional context demonstrates how truly life-changing this tragedy has been for those who live there and witnessed the destruction of their homes, neighborhoods and even entire districts.

So, are you ready to drive through the wastes? Let's go.

Here's what Watari, south of Sendai, looks like:

google maps street view japan tsunami

Not much to work with there. Another shot of the same area reveals piles of rubble awaiting transport to the dump:

google maps street view japan tsunami

Wait, that's not rubble. THIS is rubble, from Onagawa:

google maps street view japan tsunami

A before shot of an Onagawan street:

google maps street view japan tsunami

And the same road from after:


google maps street view japan tsunami

Google did a pretty good job covering the communities affected by this titanic disaster. But there's one place its vans didn't go. Note the black hole in coverage around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor, located on the eastern coast between Soma and Iwaki. That area might not be canvassed for a very long time:

google maps street view japan tsunami
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