Two years ago we launched an initiative using Street View to digitally archive the 2011 tsunami and earthquake-affected areas in Northeastern Japan. Since then, we’ve captured 360-degree panoramas of the region, including the town of Namie-machi in the Fukushima Exclusion Zone and over 70 interiors of devastated buildings across the Tohoku region.

Our digital archiving project aims not only to make a record of the disaster’s wreckage, but also to illustrate the process of Japan’s recovery. Towards that goal, we’ve driven our Street View cars throughout the Tohoku region again over the past months. Today we are updating the Street View imagery for 17 cities within the Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures for the first time since we published the first panoramas back in 2011. By releasing this new imagery on Google Maps, we hope people in Japan and from all around the world can virtually explore what these towns currently look like and better understand how local governments are working on rebuilding residents’ homes and lives.

Iwanuma, Miyagi Prefecture. View Larger Map

We recognize that the previously collected imagery has emotional and documentary value, so we’re going to continue making this imagery available to users on our Memories of the Future site. Starting today, people will be able to see 360-degree images of what these cities within the Tohoku region looked like before the tsunami and right after the tsunami, as well as what they look like today.

We are also publishing imagery today of new areas within the Fukushima Exclusion Zone, including the abandoned towns Ōkuma and Futaba. This includes roads near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, and in the new imagery, you can see the entrance to the plant on Street View.

Futaba Machi, Fukushima Prefecture. View Larger Map

In just two years, the affected areas in Northeastern Japan have already started to slowly improve and will continue to do so as the recovery continues. We hope that providing this new street-level imagery on Google Maps can make the memories of the disaster relevant and palpable for future generations.