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Remembering Fukushima: 10 Years After The Devastation

Mar 11, 2021
Originally published on March 14, 2021 9:31 am

A decade ago, NPR photographer David Gilkey documented the aftermath of the destruction caused by the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami. The earthquake triggered an explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant that ravaged the region.

In an attempt to capture what happened, Gilkey said, "It's really hard to put any of this into a perspective that someone would understand at home. This town today was literally just ... gone." He was referring to the devastation in Rikuzentakata in the Iwate Prefecture.

On the 10th anniversary of this catastrophe, we look back at Gilkey's photos.

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Two Japanese women walk through a neighborhood where cars and boats had been tossed around, in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, on March 22, 2011.
David Gilkey / NPR
Jun Oshita, 46, holds a single shoe, the only memory he could find of his mother. Kuni Oshita, 73, was killed in the March 11 tsunami in Noda, which was almost completely destroyed after the earthquake and tsunami.
David Gilkey / NPR
"This town today was literally just ... gone," photographer David Gilkey said of the devastated Rikuzentakata, Miyagi Prefecture.
David Gilkey / NPR
A woman climbs out of the ruins of her home, which was washed beneath a bridge in Noda in northeastern Japan on March 18, 2011.
David Gilkey / NPR
A man looks at one of the few buildings remaining upright — sort of — in Noda, a week after the disaster.
David Gilkey / NPR
The coastal town of Noda in Iwate Prefecture, in northeastern Japan, lies in utter ruins on March 18, 2011.
David Gilkey / NPR
A Japanese man walks his bike between two massive trawlers that were thrown ashore in Kesennuma, Japan.
David Gilkey / NPR
A elderly man looks out over the shattered landscape of the coastal town of Noda, Iwate Prefecture, in northeastern Japan, on March 18, 2011.
David Gilkey / NPR
Photographer David Gilkey said it is hard to describe the ruin of places like Rikuzentakata, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan.
David Gilkey / NPR
Japanese Defense Force soldiers help to remove the remains of a fishing market near the town of Noda, in northeastern Japan, March 18, 2011.
David Gilkey / NPR
Fishing ships are stacked like toys hundreds of yards from the harbor waters in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, on March 22, 2011.
David Gilkey / NPR
"It's really hard to put any of this into a perspective that someone would understand at home," said David Gilkey, who visited Rikuzentakata, Miyagi Prefecture.
David Gilkey / NPR