It has already brought us up some of the world's tallest mountains, inside the Grand Canyon and underwater to the Great Barrier Reef. Now, Google Street View brings us to an abandoned town in Japan's Fukushima Prefecture, where tens of thousands were forced to evacuate in March 2011 due to a devastating tsunami that caused one of the worst nuclear disasters in history.
Captured this month at the request of the town's mayor, the 360-degree panoramic views of the small coastal town of Namie are the first Street View images from within the 12-mile-wide government-mandated exclusion zone, according to The New York Times's Lede Blog.
The images are predictably eerie, since the town's roughly 21,000 former residents are forbidden by the government from moving back home. But Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba wants the images captured for the sake of posterity.
"Those of us in the older generation feel that we received this town from our forebearers, and we feel great pain that we cannot pass it down to our children," Baba wrote Wednesday in a post on Google's Lat Long Blog. "We want this Street View imagery to become a permanent record of what happened to Namie-machi in the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster."
Although the Japanese government has allowed some people to return to their homes in the Fukushima area, most evacuees still have not done so.
Check out these panoramic images of deserted Namie, Japan, (below) or do your own exploring on Google Maps:
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