Netizen Photos Show Tohoku Region Two Years After Disaster

How has the Tohoku region recovered two years after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami?

How has the Tohoku region recovered two years after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami?

The devastating aftermath of the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami changed the landscape of communities in the region; both buildings and families were torn apart, and much that was lost can never be truly recovered.

Still, exactly two years on, netizens have re-posted photographs that chart the progress of the region on, with the affected areas showing remarkable signs of regeneration, while still bearing the scars of disaster. Although the photographs are testament to the monumental efforts of the groups and individuals who have worked to restore Tohoku, they also remind us that Tohoku must not be forgotten as the years pass.

A recent NHK infographic confirms that the region’s recovery is still far from complete, showing that even after two years, only 0.3% of council housing is completed, and that 315,000 people are still living in temporary housing, not to mention the ongoing problems with radioactive materials and the local agricultural economy.

The photographs you will see below are composite pictures comprising three images that show how the area looked immediately after the disaster, and how it has developed in the two years that have followed. Japanese netizens have retweeted these photographs thousands of times, applauding Japan’s resilience, but also recalling the dread they felt when they first heard of the disaster on March 11, 2011.


The 3/11 Great Tohoku Earthquake: The State of the Affected Areas Two Years On


Please click on the thumbnails for complete images; each image comprises three pictures.

Comments from


I can never forget this. We must never forget.


My heart aches seeing these, but Japan is amazing.


Has it already been two years…?


Two years already…the months and days have passed so quickly.


It’s still painful when I look at the photographs of the affected areas.


Despite everything, the regeneration is still not finished.


Time passes quickly.


Two years….I want Tohoku to recover!


Even if it does recover, it can never go back to how it was before. It’s a lonely feeling, knowing that the landscape you knew so well as a child is gone forever.


That night in a snowstorm that I spent without electricity or heat…I can remember it like it was yesterday.


We have to bring it back to how it was before.


When I see that the houses that remained are now just vacant land my chest grows tight…


Two years…

Comments from Twitter:


The area was cleared quickly, but things haven’t moved past that stage…

神崎朱音 20:18

Don’t look away from these photographs. We must not forget.


It’s easy to see how the regeneration is continuing when photos from 2011→12→13 are lined up like this (⌒(´・▲・`)⌒)


I really want you to see these photographs.


Recovery is still a long way off.

ムハラグ 16:16

Along with my sympathy for all those who were affected by the disaster, I pray that the souls of those who died rest in peace, and that the affected areas will recover as quickly as possible.


Japan is amazing!!


Two years already. I mean, I guess we need to look to the future…yes, let’s do our best.


If you only knew the area as it is now, you’d probably never notice there had been a disaster.

腹 黒 委 員 長 。:

Has it already been two years…guess it will take another two years…Everyone feels differently about it, but what’s certain is that we must never forget.


I wish that when people post photos like this that they’d also post pictures of the areas that haven’t been improved at all despite two years having passed. Because it’s not true that everywhere is recovering.

午後ティー :

Don’t be looking at these when you’re on the train. I almost burst into tears.


There’s a difference between the areas that are recovering and the areas that just became vacant land.


In September last year I went to Ishinomaki, and it was so tidy along the way that I wondered whether there could really have been a tsunami there. But then halfway through I realised. It was all empty land. The places I passed after that were still so distorted by the earthquake that they couldn’t even put street lamps in the ground.

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