Japan’s battered coast, then and now

The tsunami waves that struck Japan’s east coast on March 11, 2011, killed nearly 19,000 and displaced more than 340,000. Authorities say a full recovery will take at least a decade. These 13 images show the devastation in the days after the disaster and the same spots nearly a year later.

Japan Self Defense Forces soldiers remove a body in Kesennuma city, Miyagi Prefecture,
on March 19, 2011. Nearly one year later, life slowly returns to normal.

Noriko Hayashi for the Washington Post

Residents whose homes were destroyed by the tsunami sought refuge in this gym in Otsuchi town, Iwate Prefecture. They have since moved to temporary housing.

Noriko Hayashi for the Washington Post

A woman living in an evacuation center washes dishes at a water pipe amidst the rubble of Yamada town, Iwate Prefecture, on March 28, 2011. A car passes the temporary water facility, which was still functioning, on Feb. 4, 2012.

Noriko Hayashi for the Washington Post

Yuko Sugimoto looks for her son in Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture. Sugimoto stands near the same spot with 5-year-old Raito on Jan. 27, 2012.

Yomiuri Shimbnun (left), Toru Yamanaka / AFP, Getty Images

Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture: March 14, 2011 and Jan. 15, 2012

Toshifumi Kitamura (left), Toru Yamanaka / AFP, Getty Images

Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture: March 14, 2011, and Jan. 15, 2012

Toshifumi Kitamura (left), Toru Yamanaka / AFP, Getty Images

Residents evacuate down a flooded road in Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture on March 12, 2011. The same area is shown on Jan. 13, 2012.

Jiji Press (left), Toru Yamanaka / AFP, Getty Images

Residents walk past damaged cars in Tagajo, Miyagi Prefecture on March 13, 2011. The same area is shown on Jan. 12, 2012.

Kim Jae-Hwan (left), Toru Yamanaka / AFP, Getty Images

Kesennuma: March 16, 2011 and Jan. 14, 2012

Philippe Lopez (left), Toru Yamanaka / AFP, Getty Images

Kesennuma: March 16, 2011 and Jan. 14, 2012

Philippe Lopez (left), Toru Yamanaka / AFP, Getty Images

Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture: March 14, 2011 and Jan. 13, 2012

Toru Yamanaka / AFP, Getty Images

A catamaran sightseeing boat was washed onto a two-story tourist home in Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture. The same area on January 16, 2012.

Yasuyoshi Chiba (left), Toru Yamanaka / AFP, Getty Images

Residents walk across a debris-covered bridge in Ishinomaki, in Miyagi Prefecture, on March 15, 2011 and drive across on Jan. 13, 2012.

Kim Jae-Hwan (left) Toru Yamanaka / AFP, Getty Images

GRAPHIC by Robert Miller and Bill Webster | The Washington Post. Published March 7, 2012.