Ian Thomas Ash, originally from New York, is a freelance documentary filmmaker who has lived in Japan for 10 years. When the 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of north-eastern Japan on March 11, Ian felt its effects in the nation’s capital, Tokyo. The impact of the quake, tsunami and the ongoing threat of radioactive fallout from the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant 150 miles away is taking its toll.

In a recent guest article for Discovery News, Ian documented the impact the ongoing crisis was having on the populous of the nation’s capital. In this new article and video, he has traveled north to Ishinomaki, one of the many cities hit hard by the tsunami to see the devastation that has claimed so many lives.

You can see more of Ian’s documentary work by visiting Ian’s YouTube Channel. He also regularly updates his personal blog, Documenting Ian.

WIDE ANGLE: Japan in Crisis

The news footage of the March 11 tsunami in the Tohoku region of Japan showed horrendous scenes of destruction. The cars that looked like toys being swept away. Entire houses lifted from their foundations. The boats marooned on downtown streets. The debris.

Does it look the same with the naked eye?

On March 23, the highway to northern Japan was still closed to all traffic except emergency vehicles and those delivering much-needed aid and supplies. I was documenting a group of volunteers who had been given one of the coveted passes that would allow us through the checkpoint and into the Tohoku region.

We traveled to Ishinomaki, one of the many cities devastated by the tsunami. With a population of 160,000, there are more than 2,000 people confirmed dead with nearly 3,000 people still missing. To add to the tragedy, there are 25,000 people who have been left homeless and are living in evacuation centers set up in schools around the city.

On the news, I had seen the images of entire towns being inundated by the tsunami as it was happening, but what about after the waters receded?

It would be impossible to describe in words what I saw, so I will let the images speak for themselves:

You can see more of Ian’s documentary work by visiting Ian’s YouTube Channel. He also regularly updates his personal blog, Documenting Ian.

Video credit: Ian Thomas Ash