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