Five years ago this week, Japan experienced the most powerful earthquake in its recorded history. 

The 9.0-magnitude quake off the country's northeast coast triggered a tsunami that washed deep inland, putting many towns underwater and causing a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, with the subsequent release of radioactive material. 

Almost 16,000 people died as a result of the quake and tsunami, with another 2,500 people still labelled as missing. More than 150,000 were displaced from their homes.

Rebuilding efforts in Japan continue to this day. Here's a comparative look at some of the northeastern towns hardest hit by the tsunami — Natori, Yamada, Kesennuma, Shinchi and Naraha — and the situation five years later.

Use the before-and-after slider below to see the difference between conditions immediately after the tsunami and today.