Skip to main content


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

"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. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit

Get the WBEZ App

Download the best live and on-demand public radio experience. Find out more.