Google Maps a Japanese Nuclear Ghost Town

Two years after the the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, and the following tsunami and nuclear disaster, a large area around the failed Fukushima nuclear plant is still considered an exclusion zone. Namie, a small city just north of the nuclear power plant, was evacuated shortly after the quake, and its 21,000 townspeople have been unable to return since, leaving it a ghost town. At the invitation of local officials, Google recently deployed its camera-equipped vehicles to Namie to create a street view map of the deserted town so residents can see their abandoned homes, and the world can witness the remains of the disaster. On Google's Map blog, Namie's Mayor Tamotsu Baba said, "Ever since the March disaster, the rest of the world has been moving forward, and many places in Japan have started recovering. But in Namie-machi time stands still... Those of us in the older generation feel that we received this town from our forebears, and we feel great pain that we cannot pass it down to our children." I've collected some of the scenes captured by the Google Maps crew below, a glimpse into an otherworldly landscape a few kilometers north of the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • David Gray / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 9/26-10/02

    Pope Francis in Philadelphia, Supermoon eclipse, tidal bores in China, Taliban in Kunduz, Afghanistan, lightning over Rio de Janeiro, BASE jumping in Kuala Lumpur, Neil deGrasse Tyson hugging a robot, Wasteland Weekend in California, Putin and Obama share a toast, and much more.

  • Carlo Allegri / Reuters

    Albino Children in Tanzania Targeted by Body Part Hunters

    Children born with albinism in Tanzania live in constant danger of being attacked by people looking to profit from superstitious beliefs. Reuters photographer Carlo Allegri recently documented the lives of several Tanzanian children receiving care in New York after being brutalized in their home country.

  • Dan Walter / Boulder County Sheriff’s Office via AP

    Animals in the News

    It's time once again for a look at the animal kingdom and our interactions with the countless species that share our planet. Today's photos include reindeer herders in far northern Russia, an orangutan taking a wheelbarrow ride in Indonesia, a wild horse roundup in Spain, flying foxes in India, orcas in Puget Sound, a leopard with its head stuck in a pot in India, and much more.

  • Al Sayyid Abd al Ghaffar / Library of Congress—Mohammed Al-Shaikh / AFP / Getty

    Mecca Then and Now, 128 Years of Growth

    A series of photographs on Mecca and its surrounding area taken sometime around 1887 by the photographer Al Sayyid Abd al Ghaffar, compared with images from similar locations taken in 2015.

Join the Discussion