Japan is set to observe the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck the Asian country last year.

The country will be hoping to mark the occasion, 11 March, with pride in reconstruction efforts so far and hope for the future.

The country was struck by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake (off the coast of Tōhoku), which resulted in a tsunami that claimed approximately 20,000 lives and destroyed countless homes and residences.

In addition, the natural disaster also damaged of two nuclear plants at Fukushima, which overheated after cooling failures. The resultant radiation leak reportedly led to the evacuation of people within a 20km radius.

In a tragic twist, even before the Japanese could recover from the first shock, they were struck by a second earthquake that struck exactly a month after the tsunami.

Since then, droves of volunteers from around the world have been working together to help the Japanese rebuild their nation.

As we near the anniversary of those disastrous moments... check out these photos that show how far the Japanese have come in so short a time

A combination photograph shows the same location at a fishing port in Kamaishi, Iwate prefecture on two different dates, April 11, 2011 (top) and February 18, 2012. The top photograph shows vehicles driving past the Asia Symphony cargo ship, swept ashore by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, the bottom photograph shows the same location almost a year later.REUTERS/Toru Hanai
A combination photograph shows the same location in Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, northeastern Japan on two different dates, April 17, 2011 (top) and February 18, 2012 (bottom). The top photograph shows people taking pictures of a ship that was washed onto a building by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, the bottom photograph shows the same location almost a year later.REUTERS/Toru Hanai
A combination photograph shows the same location in Minamisanriku, Miyagi prefecture on two different dates, March 22, 2011 (top) and February 21, 2012 (bottom). The top photograph shows a car seen on top of a destroyed building after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, the bottom photograph shows the same location almost a year later.REUTERS/Carlos Barria (top)
A combination photograph shows the same location in Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, northeastern Japan on three different dates, March 15, 2011 (top), August 13, 2011 (centre) and February 18, 2012 (bottom). The top photograph shows a shop destroyed by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, the middle photograph shows the area around the shop after it was cleared of debris, and the bottom photograph shows the shop trading again in the same location almost a year later. The shop had reopened December 22, 2011.REUTERS/Aly Song,
A combination photograph shows the same location in Rikuzentakata, northern Japan on three different dates, March 13, 2011 (top), September 9, 2011 (centre) and February 19, 2012 (bottom). The top photograph shows the devastation as rescue workers search for victims in the rubble after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, the centre photograph shows damaged cars, and the bottom photograph show the same location almost a year later.REUTERS/Toru Hanai
A combination photograph shows the same location in Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture on two different dates, March 19, 2011 (top), and February 19, 2012 (bottom). The top photograph shows emergency workers searching through debris after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, the bottom photograph shows the same location almost a year later.REUTERS/Damir Sagolj (top)