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.

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