In a few days, Japan will mark the 2nd anniversary of the devastating Tohoku earthquake and resulting tsunami. The disaster killed nearly 19,000 across Japan, leveling entire coastal villages. Now, nearly all the rubble has been removed, or stacked neatly, but reconstruction on higher ground is lagging, as government red tape has slowed recovery efforts. Locals living in temporary housing are frustrated, and still haunted by the horrific event, some displaying signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. Collected below are a series of before-and-after interactive images.
The tsunami-devastated Kesennuma in Miyagi prefecture, is pictured in this side-by-side comparison photo taken March 12, 2011 (left) and March 4, 2013 (right), ahead of the two-year anniversary of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that damaged so much of northeastern Japan.
Residents crossing a bridge covered with debris in a tsunami-hit area of the city of Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture on March 15, 2011, and the same area nearly two years later on February 22, 2013.
Residents look at a tsunami-damaged area of Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, on March 12, 2011, and the same area on February 17, 2013.
Rusted vehicles and tsunami debris in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture, on March 19, 2011, and the same scene March 1, 2013.
Tsunami debris covers a large area of Natori, near Sendai in Miyagi prefecture on March 13, 2011, and the same field on February 21, 2013.
A tsunami-hit area of Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture on March 29, 2011, and the same area on February 19, 2013.
The tsunami-devastated Minamisanriku, Miyagi prefecture, seen on March 13, 2011, and March 2, 2013.
Residents walk past damaged cars on a street in a tsunami-damaged area of Tagajo, Miyagi prefecture on March 13, 2011, and the same street on February 21, 2013.
A tsunami-hit street in Ofunato, Iwate prefecture on March 14, 2011, and the same scene as it appeared on February 19, 2013.
A rescue worker walks through rubble in the tsunami hit area of Minamisanriku, Miyagi prefecture on March 18, 2011, and the same area on February 20, 2013.
A cherry blossom tree stands among tsunami debris in the city of Kamaishi, Iwate prefecture on April 20, 2011, and the same scene on February 18, 2013.
A catamaran sightseeing boat washed by the tsunami onto a two-story home in Otsuchi, Iwate prefecture on April 16, 2011, and the same structure on February 18, 2013.
On March 12, 2011, people evacuate down a road flooded by the tsunami in the city of Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture, and the same road on February 22, 2013.
A 10-meter tall pine tree stands in Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture on March 29, 2011, shortly after the tsunami. the same scene nearly two years later, on February 19, 2013. It was the only tree to have survived the tsunami among some 70,000 trees located by the seashore to protect from salt, sand and wind damage, but later died. The crane (2nd image) is orking on a memorial to the tree.
Tsunami-hit Ofunato, in Iwate prefecture on March 14, 2011, and the same scene as it appeared on February 18, 2013.
An image of the tsunami breaching an embankment and flowing into the city of Miyako, Iwate prefecture, taken by a Miyako City official on March 11, 2011, and the same scene on February 18, 2013, nearly two years later.