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

  • Finnbarr Webster / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Antarctic Sunrise, Suspended Cabin, Shanghai Lightning

    Heavy fog in India, the announcement of a vice-presidential candidate in Delaware, protests and anger in Beirut, a Latvian folk and pagan metal band in concert, derecho damage in Iowa, and much more

  • Ringo H.W. Chiu / AP

    California’s Fast-Moving Lake Fire

    A dangerous wildfire driven by hot, windy conditions has prompted hundreds of evacuations.

  • Greg Du Toit / Barcroft Media / Getty

    World Elephant Day 2020

    Recent images of African and Asian elephants in their natural habitat, as well as in preserves and protected parks

  • Gwendoline Defente / EMAE via AP

    A Growing Oil Spill Off the Coast of Mauritius

    After running aground and being battered by waves for days, the MV Wakashio has leaked tons of fuel oil.