<p><strong>A year ago this week, a <a href="http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/natural-disasters/tsunami-profile/">tsunami</a> wave crashes over a seawall in the city of Miyako, <a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/japan-guide/">Japan</a>, shortly after a devastating magnitude 9.0 <a href="http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/natural-disasters/earthquake-profile/">earthquake</a> struck the region. (See National Geographic News's <a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/03/110311-tsunami-earthquake-japan-hawaii-science-world-waves/">complete Japan earthquake and tsunami coverage</a>.)</strong></p><p>March 11, 2012 marks the first anniversary of that devastating quake, which triggered a monster tsunami that left many of Japan's coastal towns in ruins and sparked a nuclear disaster at the country's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. (<a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2011/11/pictures/111111-nuclear-cleanup-struggle-at-fukushima/">Related photos: "The Nuclear Cleanup Struggle at Fukushima</a>.")</p><p>The twin disasters claimed more than 19,000 lives, and thousands of victims are still unaccounted for.</p><p>"People who lost their beloved family members are still very sad," said <a href="http://www.bekkoame.ne.jp/~mayama/index.htm">Kimimasa Mayama</a>, a Tokyo-based photographer who traveled around Japan taking pictures of the devastation not long afterward.</p><p>(Related: "<a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/03/110316-zoom-satellite-pictures-japan-tsunami-earthquake-world-before-after/">Japan Tsunami, Before &amp; After: Zoomable Satellite Images.</a>")</p><p><em>—Ker Than</em></p>

Before: Tsunami Breaches Seawall

A year ago this week, a tsunami wave crashes over a seawall in the city of Miyako, Japan, shortly after a devastating magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck the region. (See National Geographic News's complete Japan earthquake and tsunami coverage.)

March 11, 2012 marks the first anniversary of that devastating quake, which triggered a monster tsunami that left many of Japan's coastal towns in ruins and sparked a nuclear disaster at the country's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. (Related photos: "The Nuclear Cleanup Struggle at Fukushima.")

The twin disasters claimed more than 19,000 lives, and thousands of victims are still unaccounted for.

"People who lost their beloved family members are still very sad," said Kimimasa Mayama, a Tokyo-based photographer who traveled around Japan taking pictures of the devastation not long afterward.

(Related: "Japan Tsunami, Before & After: Zoomable Satellite Images.")

—Ker Than

Photograph from Miyako City Office via Reuters

Pictures: Japan Tsunami, Then and Now

A year ago Sunday, the March 11 Japan tsunami flooded highways, tossed boats and cars, and leveled cities. See what the region looks like now.

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