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March 7, 2012 Permalink

Japan tsunami pictures: before and after

In this first of three Big Picture posts on the anniversary of the Japan earthquake-tsunami-nuclear disaster, we have a series of paired "then and now" pictures, with the first image taken recently paired with a picture from the same vantage point taken during or in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. CLICK ON IMAGES 2 THROUGH 27 TO SEE THE SAME AREA ONE YEAR AGO. This effect requires javascript to be enabled. Outside of Japan's nuclear exclusion zone the country has made a remarkable cleanup of the areas ravaged by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. But a quasi-normality reigns, with some formerly devastated areas now orderly, yet not as they were before the tragedy, while other areas bear heavy signs of damage. Several photographers recently painstakingly recreated scenes photographed during the original events. AFP's Toru Yamanaka said the task was very difficult, with many of the visual clues wiped away. Yamanaka said he had to ask local residents where they thought the original photos were taken. In Ishinomaki, he walked into the city hall and showed people a photograph of a piece of land with many stones scattered on it. "All the city officials from one section came out and tried to help me. They stared at the picture all together but still couldn't figure it out. One young woman, also working at the city hall, then shouted: 'I got it!' She pointed out a tiny building in the background that was under construction, and said, 'I know the building.'" The last three images, as well as the first image here, are of Yuko Sugimoto and her son, Raito. Photographed wrapped in a blanket looking for her son, the moment became an iconic image of the disaster. Thankfully, their story has a happy ending, as the pair were safely reunited. -- Lane Turner (56 photos total)

This combination photograph shows Yuko Sugimoto wrapped with a blanket standing in front of debris looking for her son in the tsunami-hit town of Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture on March 13, 2011 and the same housewife standing with her five-year-old son Raito at the same place on January 27, 2012. March 11, 2012 will mark the first anniversary of the massive tsunami that pummelled Japan, claiming more than 19,000 lives. (Yomiuri Shimbun/AFP) (Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images)
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