Back in March, a devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami caused massive damage to a large part of eastern Japan. A few months later, Google announced that they would be driving their Street View cars around, taking photos of the damage. They said that this would serve as a digital archive of the power of mother nature for future generations.
Today, they’ve announced that the project has come to fruition. 44,000 kilometers worth of driving has yielded some unbelievable before and after photos that are now available for everyone to see using Street View.
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.
This timestamp feature has been the most requested Street View feature for the last few years, and it is now available on Street View imagery worldwide. Professionals such as historians, architects, city planners and tourism boards—as well as regular users including travelers and home-buyers—can now get a sense of how fresh the online photos are for a locations that interests them
You can access the new Street View photos by simply going to Google Maps and entering Street view in the specific areas, but it’s better if you visit the Build The Memory site, which is devoted to the before and after shots.
It might be a little tough to find perfect before and after shots, but if you search up Japan’s Northeast coast, it won’t take you too long. Once you zoom in on a particular area, you can hit the “before” or “after” buttons at the top and see a photo of the same location, either pre or post tsunami.
Doing so will give you amazing contrasts like these from Onagawa, Oshika Distrcit, Miyagi Prefecture:
As you can see, the devastation is immense. At least this sort of thing can provide context for people who were too young to remember the disasters or perhaps hadn’t even been born yet. Another interesting visualization of the Japan disasters was released by Twitter back in June. It shows the volume of tweets being sent during the earthquake and the chaotic period afterward.