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All photos were taken from the Washington Hotel in Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture, where a beach lined with conifers once existed before it was destroyed by the March 11 tsunami. The entire area has been leveled except for some of the concrete and steel. (NPR)

A Room Without A View: NPR Photographer Frames Japan's Wreckage

by Claire O'Neill
Mar 24, 2011

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"How do you make a picture of something that's basically nonexistent?" NPR photographer David Gilkey mused aloud on the phone yesterday. In Japan it was about 11:30 pm, and he had just spent the day trying to capture the devastation in Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture — or what remains of it. "It's really hard to put any of this into a perspective that someone would understand at home. This town today was literally just ... gone."

"I tried to frame it in a way so that people would see it like looking out their window at home," Gilkey said, offering his own solution.

What if you looked out a window at where your neighbor's house stood yesterday — and today saw nothing but scraps? It may be difficult to photograph, but is even more difficult to imagine.

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