Exactly a year on from the enormously destructive earthquake and tsunami, Japan has commemorated the events of that day in ceremonies around the country.
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko led a minute of silence in Tokyo’s National Theatre at the precise moment that the 9.0 magnitude tremor unleashed a wall of water that ravaged the northeast coast, killing thousands.
The country is still grappling with the cost, both human and economic.
“It is important that we do not forget the memories of this big earthquake and pass them onto our descendants, so that readiness for natural disasters is fostered and we can make progress towards building a safer country,” said the Emperor.
As well as dealing with the emotional aftermath of the the disaster, Japan is still in the grips of the nuclear fallout from the crippled Fukushima plant.
Residents from a nearby town, abandoned afterwards, returned home for a few hours to pay their respects to those lost 12 months ago.
Tens of thousands of people evacuated from the area may never be allowed back to their homes.
TEPCO the operator, much criticised for its failure to prepare for the disaster, has issued a fresh apology, vowing to work to solve its problems with safety as first priority.
Once again the terrible images of the ocean invading the land are prominent in people’s minds, as Japan slowly recovers from the tragedy that left some 19,000 dead or missing.