Reuters has photographs that show towns (or what used to be towns) and people in Tohoku region in Japan right after the March 11, 2011 earthquake/tsunami/nuclear accident.
Some of the photos I remember seeing, but others I see now for the first time. What impressed me was this photograph of Kesennuma City in Miyagi Prefecture, which was devastated by the tsunami and the ensuing fire. It was taken on March 22, 2011, eleven days after the tsunami. The roads, as you see in the photo, were already cleared of debris, and a man was walking his dog, as if it were just another ordinary day:
Here's Rikuzentakata City in Iwate Prefecture. It was a total wipeout for the town. The photo was taken on March 17, 2011. Rescue workers, probably either policemen or firefighters, salute to pay respect to the dead:
I have little doubt that Japan would have quickly recovered and rebuilt itself after the March 11, 2011 disaster, if it had been just the earthquake and tsunami.