PUBLISHED: 15:15 GMT, 16 July 2012 | UPDATED: 17:51 GMT, 16 July 2012
In a painful reminder of the tsunami that left a trail of destruction in Japan, devastating flooding has caused 28 deaths and forced around 250,000 people in the south-west of the country to flee their homes.
Most were able to return home today, although the danger from record rainfall has not fully passed, with more downpours possible later.
Thousands of homes and hundreds of roads were damaged, and hundreds of landslides were reported.
Wreckage: Rescue workers search for missing people at the scene of a landslide in Aso, Kumamoto prefecture
Suffering: A sick elderly woman is carried on a stretcher be airlifted to a hospital in Yame, south-west Japan
The military has airlifted food by helicopter to stranded districts.
News reports said 28 people have died and police were searching for four missing people in the three prefectures of Kumamoto, Oita and Fukuoka, after heavy rainfall that began on Thursday.
Nationwide tallies of the dead and missing are not immediately available.
Weather officials warned people to be careful even in areas where rain had subsided because the land was still mushy and prone to landslides.
Even as some of the water subsided, homes and farms on the southern island of Kyushu, hardest hit by the flooding, were still getting food shipments, although mostly by land, local officials said.
After the rain: Flooded neighbourhood after heavy rains in Kyoto, as households began the long clean-up process
Chaos: A loading shovel removes dirt and trees blocking a road after heavy rain in Yame, south-west Japan
The intense rain occurred as far north as the ancient capital of Kyoto, where rainfall exceeded 90mm (3.5in) per hour - a condition in which rain cascades in such torrents that it is impossible to see.
Evacuation orders are gradually being lifted, allowing most residents to return home.
Fukuoka prefecture said that as of today, damage there extended to more than 4,300 homes, 800 roads and 20 bridges. At least 518 landslides were recorded, and more than 2,700 people had been evacuated.
The rain 'was like a waterfall', according to Yoko Yoshika in Yamaguchi prefecture. 'It was horrible,' she added.
Japanese soldiers search for missing people in Ichinomiya-machi town in Aso, Kumamoto prefecture, where more than 800mm of rain have fallen since Thursday
Fears: Soldiers search for missing people in an area devastated by rains at Ichinomiya-machi town in Aso, Kumamoto prefecture
Ms Yoshika, wife of an award-winning Hagi-yaki style potter, said their workers used a bucket relay with plastic pails to get rid of the water flowing into their shop.
In Yame, a city of 69,000 in Fukuoka prefecture, dozens of people were stranded by the flooding.
City official Kumi Takesue said: 'Our region gets hit with heavy rain every year, but I have never experienced anything like this.
'Rice paddies and roads all became water so you couldn't tell what was what,' she said, adding that she had to wade in knee-high water, even near her home, which was not as hard hit as other areas.