Google encourages gawpers with updated Street View of Japan

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Well, that's tasteful. In Germany, Google allows residents to remove their homes from Street View - but in Japan, it's giving the owners of piles of rubble no such option.

After cruising round more than 44,000 kilometers of earthquake- flattened landscape, the company's posted images online. They're available on Street View itself, as well as through a special website called Build the Memory.

Here, before and after images can be compared.

"If you start inland and venture out toward the coast, you’ll see the idyllic countryside change dramatically, becoming cluttered with mountains of rubble and debris as you get closer to the ocean," says Steret View senior product manager Kei Kawai.

"In the cities, buildings that once stood proud are now empty spaces."

Google claims that the site should be useful to researchers and scientists who study the effects of natural disasters.

"We also believe that the imagery is a useful tool for anyone around the world who wants to better understand the extent of the damage," says Kawai.

"Seeing the street-level imagery of the affected areas puts the plight of these communities into perspective and ensures that the memories of the disaster remain relevant and tangible for future generations."

Don't think, though, that Google has no finer feelings when it comes to Street View. It's just removed access to its API from a game called Google Shoot View, which spliced Street View with a shoot-em-up.

All the game did was superimpose an M4A1 carbine on Google Street View images and add gun sound effects - no blood, guts or indeed earthquake debris involved.