Beautiful Photos Capture Japan's Resilience 4 Years After Its Worst Disaster Since WWII

03/11/2015 09:50 am ET | Updated Mar 11, 2015

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck northeast Japan, triggering a massive tsunami and a crippling nuclear crisis. Nearly 19,000 people lost their lives in the disaster -- the country's worst since World War II.

On Wednesday, the victims of the March 11 catastrophe were remembered in ceremonies across Japan. At 2:46 p.m. -- the time the earthquake struck -- the country observed a minute of silence.

Four years after the crisis, Japan continues its path to recovery. The stunning photos below document the country's resilience and its efforts to rebuild.

  • The "Tora Mai" tiger dance is performed at the Kozuchi Shrine on Jan. 1, 2015, in Otsuchi, Iwate, Japan. The 2011 tsunami devastated the town.
  • Tomohiro Ohsumi / Bloomberg / Getty Images
    A worker walks on a conveyor transporting excavated soil for elevating the city's ground level in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, Japan, on Jan. 18, 2015. The city plans to elevate the ground that was submerged after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami above sea level.
  • The Asahi Shimbun / Getty Images
    A passenger snaps a photo of the "difficult-to-return zone" from a bus that started operations through the evacuation area on Jan. 31, 2015, in Futaba, Fukushima, Japan. Public transportation has finally returned to an evacuation zone close to the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, with a bus route that runs through an area with high radiation levels.
  • The Asahi Shimbun / Getty Images
    Brand-new houses are seen while land facing the sea remains vacant on Feb. 11, 2015, in Iwanuma, Miyagi, Japan. This is the first large-scale collective relocation since a tsunami devastated northeastern Japan in March 2011.
  • Tomohiro Ohsumi / Bloomberg / Getty Images
    Michihiro Kono, president of Yagisawa Shouten Co., holds a bottle of the company's "Miracle Soy Sauce" at its factory in Ichinoseki, Iwate prefecture, Japan, on Jan. 16, 2015. When an 18-meter tsunami demolished his soy sauce factories in 2011 and killed an employee, Kono despaired about the future of the company his family founded two centuries ago. Three years later, his plants are running again and sales have recovered to about 70 percent of what they were before a record earthquake hit Rikuzentakata in northern Japan.
  • The Asahi Shimbun / Getty Images
    A sign displaying radiation levels is placed at the Joban Expressway on March 1, 2015, in Futaba, Fukushima, Japan. Local governments and tourism officials are pinning their hopes that the highway will facilitate recovery of the region devastated by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in 2011 and help tourism recover.
  • Yoshikazu Tsuno / AFP / Getty Images
    Protestors raise anti-nuclear placards at a rally denouncing nuclear power plants in Tokyo on March 8, 2015. Thousands of people took part in the demonstration and rally ahead of the fourth anniversary of the tsunami-linked disaster at Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) Fukushima nuclear plant.
  • Ken Ishii / Getty Images
    Bags of soil contaminated with radiation are stacked on March 9, 2015, in Tomioka town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan.
  • The Asahi Shimbun / Getty Images
    A general view of the JR Yamada Line on March 7, 2015, in Miyako, Iwate, Japan. The railway reconstruction between Miyako and Kamaishi will start almost four years after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami, and is scheduled to be completed in 2018.
  • Kazuhiro Nogi / AFP / Getty Images
    In a picture taken on March 8, 2015, a volunteer member prays at an altar for young victims killed during the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami disaster at Kaibama area in Minami-soma, north of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
  • Chris McGrath / Getty Images
    A day before the fourth anniversary of the Great Eastern Earthquake and Tsunami, people take photographs in front of the miracle tree on March 10, 2015, in Rikuzentakata, Iwate, Japan.
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