A virtual tour through tsunami-hit Japan

10 December 2012 | 15:02 - By Rhiannon Elston

From eerie abandoned schools to huge beached ships, anyone can now experience the colossal impact of Japan's 2011 tsunami up close.

Google has created an interactive walking tour of the northeast coast of Japan, taking in some of the areas worst hit by the devastating event.

The tech company sent its Street View vehicles to map areas directly affected by the March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

Many of the images were captured between July and October last year. They show cranes and workmen dotted around harbour landscapes, clearing debris and razing battered buildings.

Elsewhere, houses lay weather-beaten and abandoned. Whole towns appear to have vanished.

It's all part of Google's plan to digitally archive the extensive damage caused by the tragedy, which killed an estimated 15,800 people.

The images can be viewed on Street View, and also at a 'virtual museum' website. Each image is stamped with the date it was taken.

wrote in a blog post that the project was intended for research and education. 

"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," he wrote.

"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."

The following images can be found on the Google Street View project.

1. A badly damaged boat lies in Higashimaecho near Kamaishi.

2. Otsuchi Harbour, Kamihei district, Iwate prefecture.

3. A view of the now defunct Utatsu bypass, Miyagi prefecture.

3. Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture.  

4. Workers repair buildings in Higashimaecho, Kamaishi. 


5. Rubble awaiting clearance, Utatsu, Miyagi Prefecture.

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About this Blog

SBS reporter Rhiannon Elston zeroes in on the topics of the day.

Rhiannon Elston Rhiannon Elston is an SBS journalist, reporter, writer and self-confessed social media tragic.