Photographing the Tohoku Earthquake / Tsunami Zone from a Balloon

June 29, 2011

Yoichi Suzuki and his wife Fumie have been taking aerial photos and video from their remote-controlled helium balloon for several years now. Following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck northern Japan on March 11, the couple have been using their balloon to raise awareness about the damage. They have documented their work at the Ganbarou Nippon website.

Unlike airplane or satellite photos, according to the Suzukis, using a balloon allows a much closer view. The photos and videos are from high enough up to convey the magnitude of the disaster, but are close enough that everything is still identifiable and on a human scale.

The Suzukis launch their balloon

Via Kyodo News

Kibou no Matsu at Takada-Matsubara in IwateVia Sankei News

The beach along Takada-Matsubara was once lined with over 70,000 pine trees, and was considered among the most beautiful landscapes in the country. Following the tsunami, only a single tree remained standing, which has since been rechristened Kibou no Matsu, The Pine of Hope.

Miyako City, IwateVia Ganbarou Nippon

Via Ganbarou Nippon

Via Ganbarou Nippon

Namie-machi in Fukushima Prefecture

Via Sankei News click the link for a 360 panorama view.

Video of Namie-machi.

The Haramachi Thermal Power Plant in Minami-Souma, Fukushima Prefecture (note: not the crippled nuclear power plant)

Minami-Sanriku in Miyagi at evening. The balloon hovers close to the steel skeleton that remains from the town’s Disaster Management building. On the day of the tsunami, Miki Endo, a young employee there, took the microphone to broadcast the tsunami warning and evacuation orders. She stayed at the mic repeating the warning, urging everyone to flee, until the 10-meter high wall of water crushed the building. Her warning is credited with saving the lives of over 7,000 people.


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