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March 7, 2012

Japan tsunami pictures: before and after

In this first of three Big Picture posts on the anniversary of the Japan earthquake-tsunami-nuclear disaster, we have a series of paired "then and now" pictures, with the first image taken recently paired with a picture from the same vantage point taken during or in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. CLICK ON IMAGES 2 THROUGH 27 TO SEE THE SAME AREA ONE YEAR AGO. This effect requires javascript to be enabled. Outside of Japan's nuclear exclusion zone the country has made a remarkable cleanup of the areas ravaged by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. But a quasi-normality reigns, with some formerly devastated areas now orderly, yet not as they were before the tragedy, while other areas bear heavy signs of damage. Several photographers recently painstakingly recreated scenes photographed during the original events. AFP's Toru Yamanaka said the task was very difficult, with many of the visual clues wiped away. Yamanaka said he had to ask local residents where they thought the original photos were taken. In Ishinomaki, he walked into the city hall and showed people a photograph of a piece of land with many stones scattered on it. "All the city officials from one section came out and tried to help me. They stared at the picture all together but still couldn't figure it out. One young woman, also working at the city hall, then shouted: 'I got it!' She pointed out a tiny building in the background that was under construction, and said, 'I know the building.'" The last three images, as well as the first image here, are of Yuko Sugimoto and her son, Raito. Photographed wrapped in a blanket looking for her son, the moment became an iconic image of the disaster. Thankfully, their story has a happy ending, as the pair were safely reunited. -- Lane Turner (56 photos total)

This combination photograph shows Yuko Sugimoto wrapped with a blanket standing in front of debris looking for her son in the tsunami-hit town of Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture on March 13, 2011 and the same housewife standing with her five-year-old son Raito at the same place on January 27, 2012. March 11, 2012 will mark the first anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming more than 19,000 lives. (Yomiuri Shimbun/AFP) (Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images)

This pair of photographs shows the same location on a street in Miyako, Iwate Prefecture, Japan on two different dates, March 11, 2011 and February 17, 2012. The first photograph shows the area today, and the second shows a tsunami wave crashing into the street after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Miyako City Office/Handout/Reuters) and (Toru Hanai/Reuters) #

This pair of photographs shows the same location in a fishing port in Miyako, Iwate Prefecture, Japan on March 11, 2011 and February 17, 2012. The second photograph shows a wave crashing into the port during the tsunami.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Miyako City Office/Handout/Reuters) and (Toru Hanai/Reuters) #

This pair of photographs shows the same location in a fishing port in Miyako, Iwate Prefecture, Japan on two different dates, March 11, 2011 and February 16, 2012.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Miyako City Office/Handout/Reuters) and (Toru Hanai/Reuters) #

This pair of photographs shows the same location on a street in Miyako, Iwate Prefecture, Japan on two different dates, March 11, 2011 and February 17, 2012.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Toshiro Nagahora/Reuters) and (Toru Hanai/Reuters) #

This pair of photographs shows the same location on a street in Miyako, Iwate Prefecture, Japan on two different dates, March 11, 2011 and February 17, 2012.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Miyako City Office/Handout/Reuters) and (Toru Hanai/Reuters) #

This pair of photographs shows the same location on a street in Miyako, Iwate Prefecture, Japan on two different dates, March 11, 2011 and February 17, 2012.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Miyako City Office/Handout/Reuters) and (Toru Hanai/Reuters) #

This pair of pictures shows the area where the ship Asia Symphony ran aground after the March 11 tsunami in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, Japan on March 18, 2011 and January 16, 2012.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images) and (Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images) #

This pair of pictures taken from a hilltop on March 16, 2011 and on January 14, 2012 shows the city of Kesennuma, Japan.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images) and (Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images) #

This pair of pictures shows the city of Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture, Japan on January 13, 2012 and people evacuating with small boats down the same road flooded by the tsunami on March 12, 2011.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images) and (Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images) #

This pair of pictures shows a street in Ishonomaki, Miyagi prefecture, Japan on January 13, 2012 and a boat washed by the tsunami onto the same street on March 15, 2011.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images) and (Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images) #

This pair of pictures shows a bridge in the city of Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture, Japan as it looked on January 13, 2012 and as it looked covered with debris from the tsunami on March 15, 2011.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Kim Jae-Hwan/AFP/Getty Images) and (Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images) #

This pair of pictures shows a tourist home in Otsuchi, Iwate prefecture, Japan on January 16, 2012 and the same building with a sightseeing boat washed onto it on April 16, 2011.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images) and (Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images) #

This pair of pictures shows train tracks in Tagajo, Miyagi prefecture, Japan on January 12, 2012 and the same tracks damaged and littered with cars after the tsunami on March 13, 2011.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images) #

This pair of pictures shows Ofunato, Iwate prefecture on January 15, 2012 and the same view three days after the tsunami on March 14, 2011.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images) and (Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images) #

This pair of pictures shows Ofunato, Iwate prefecture on January 15, 2012 and the same view three days after the tsunami on March 14, 2011.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images) and (Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images) #

This pair of pictures shows Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture, Japan on January 15, 2012 and on March 22, 2011.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images) and (Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images) #

The tsunami-devastated Sendai airport in Miyagi prefecture, is seen in these images taken March 11, 2011 and March 2, 2012.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Reuters/Kyodo) #

A natural gas storage tank facility at the Cosmo oil refinery in Ichihara, Chiba prefecture, Japan under reconstruction on March 7, 2011 and burning during the disaster on March 11, 2011.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Reuters/Kyodo) #

The tsunami and earthquake-hit Iwaki city in Fukushima prefecture is seen in these images taken March 7, 2012 and March 11, 2011.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Reuters/Kyodo) #

The Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)'s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture is seen in these aerial images taken on February 26, 2012, and before the disaster in October, 2008.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Reuters/Kyodo) #

The tsunami-devastated Kesennuma area in Miyagi prefecture is seen in these images taken March 1, 2012 and March 18, 2011.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Reuters/Kyodo) #

A tsunami-devastated area in Kesennuma, Miyagi prefecture in these aerial images taken March 1, 2012 and March 12, 2011.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Reuters/Kyodo) #

The tsunami-devastated Higashimatsushima city in Miyagi prefecture is seen in these images taken March 3, 2012 and March 12, 2011.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Reuters/Kyodo) #

The tsunami-devastated Minamisanriku town in Miyagi prefecture is seen in these images taken March March 3, 2012 and March 13, 2011.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Reuters/Kyodo) #

A collection center for personal items found in the rubble of an area devastated by the earthquake and tsunami in Natori, Miyagi prefecture is seen in these images taken March 5, 2012 and on April 9, 2011.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Reuters/Kyodo) #

The tsunami-devastated Kesennuma area in Miyagi prefecture is seen in these images taken March 1, 2012 and March 13, 2011.   [ Click image to see the area one year ago ]   (Reuters/Kyodo) #

Yuko Sugimoto listens as her son Raito talks about his friend who passed away during a visit to the Ishinomaki Mizuho No.2 kindergarten in Ishinomaki, Japan on February 22, 2012. Sugimoto was pictured last year (see photo number one), wrapped in a blanket in front of a pile of debris as she looked for her son Raito who was missing. He had found refuge from the tsunami on the roof of the kindergarten. (Yuriko Nakao/Reuters) #

Children and teachers from Ishinomaki Mizuho No.2 kindergarten take shelter on the roof of their school during the tsunami in this photo taken by head teacher Hiroaki Tsuda with his mobile phone on March 11, 2011. Yuko Sugimoto's son Raito was among the children that survived the disaster as they scrambled onto the rooftop and stayed through the night until the Coast Guard rescued them the following morning. (Ishinomaki Mizuho Kindergarten head Hiroaki Tsuda/Reuters/Handout) #

Yuko Sugimoto and her son Raito pray on February 22, 2012 at the site where their pet dog was buried in the yard of their house in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan after the 3011 earthquake and tsunami. (Yuriko Nakao/Reuters) #





 
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