Internet search engine operator Google Inc. released images on Dec. 13 that give detailed views of landscapes in areas hard hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake.
The images were filmed using Google Street View technology to capture 360-degree panoramic views.
Google spent six months covering 82 municipalities in six prefectures, ranging as far north as Aomori and south to Ibaraki.
The images, which can be compared against pre-disaster views, are a valuable record of the damage from the March 11 tsunami captured over broad areas.
Google Street View images are filmed using specially adapted cars that have 360-degree panoramic cameras mounted on their rooftops. The filming began in July in the disaster-affected areas, mostly in coastal regions devastated by the tsunami.
In Fukushima Prefecture, the filming crew ventured as close as 20 kilometers to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The images can be seen for free on the Google Maps website. Viewers can designate any location on the map to get a 360-degree panoramic view of that location.
By viewing the landscapes while proceeding along roads in disaster-hit areas, viewers can learn about the magnitude of the tsunami and how far inland the tsunami traveled.
Comparison with pre-disaster imagery is available on "Memories for the Future," a separate image-sharing website that accepts postings of pre-quake photos and videos by general users.
Google began the project after requests from disaster-hit communities that wanted the scars of the March 11 quake and tsunami to be recorded for posterity.
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