Experience Tsunami-Affected Areas of Japan with Google Street View

国道398号線, Onagawa, 牡鹿郡, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan.

Google just released a digital archive of the areas of Northeastern Japan affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami via Google Maps Street View and a special website entitled "Build the Memory." 

"A virtual tour via Street View profoundly illustrates how much these natural disasters have transformed these communities," Street View Senior Product Manager Kei Kawai writes on the Google blog. "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."

The "Build the Memory" site features before and after imagery to see exactly how the tsunami affected that particular area. 

"To help people share their photographs and videos that did survive, Google created this site, “Mirai e no kioku”, which means “Memories for the Future” in Japanese," the site states. "It is our hope that this will help people rediscover lost memories of their homes and towns."
The Google Maps Street View team drove 44K km+ through the affected regions in Japan, such as Sendai and the coastal cities of the Tohoku region, to offer 360-degree panoramic imagery with timestamps through Street View.
"In the case of the post-tsunami imagery of Japan, we hope this particular digital archiving project will be useful to researchers and scientists who study the effects of natural disasters." the blog states. "We also believe that the imagery is a useful tool for anyone around the world who wants to better understand the extent of the damage."

Earlier today, we reported how a Dutch advertising agency created a first-person shooter game on top of Street View. Google has since disabled the site's use of the Google Maps API.


国道398号線, Onagawa, 牡鹿郡, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan before the earthquake and tsunami.

国道398号線, Onagawa, 牡鹿郡, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan after.