Concrete rubble litters streets lined with shuttered shops and dark windows. A collapsed roof juts from the ground. A ship sits stranded on a stretch of dirt flattened when the tsunami roared across the coastline. There isn’t a person in sight.
Google Street View is giving the world a rare glimpse into one of Japan’s eerie ghost towns, created when the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami sparked a nuclear disaster that has left the area uninhabitable.
The technology pieces together digital images captured by Google’s fleet of camera-equipped vehicles and allows viewers to take virtual tours of locations around the world, including faraway spots like the South Pole and fantastic landscapes like the Grand Canyon.
Now it is taking people inside Japan’s nuclear no—go zone, to the city of Namie, whose 21,000 residents have been unable to return to live since they fled the radiation spewing from the Fukushima Dai—ichi nuclear power plant two years ago.
Street View was started in 2007, and now provides images from more than 3,000 cities across 48 countries, as well as parts of the Arctic and Antarctica.