Tetsuro Takehana, an Asahi Shimbun photographer who lived in Fukushima Prefecture for 10 years in his childhood, takes photos of the desolate areas designated as "difficult-to-return zones.” The film was taken in late July. (Video taken by Tetsuro Takehana and Shigetaka Kodama)

The startling effects of the passage of time come into sharp focus in aerial images taken of Fukushima’s "difficult-to-return zones” in the seventh summer since the March 2011 nuclear disaster.

The bird’s-eye view pictures were captured in abandoned areas near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Okuma and Futaba in Fukushima Prefecture.

The disaster unfolded after the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake spawned a tsunami that devastated coastal areas of the Tohoku region, including Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant.

The Okuma outlet of Plant-4, a large shopping mall located 3 kilometers away from the nuclear plant along National Route No. 6, had been bustling with visitors before the disaster.

Today, weeds grow from the cracks of the asphalt-surfaced mall parking lot, slowly creeping through the expanse of space.

One striking image shows the exterior of the TEPCO-owned condominium building, which housed its employees in Futaba, is becoming covered with rampant weeds that have reached the second floor.

Another photo shows cars that cannot be recovered are partially buried, appearing as if they are sinking into a sea of green.

(This article was written by Tetsuro Takehana and Shigetaka Kodama.)