By Alastair Wanklyn
Receding flood waters reveal houses destroyed, and roads and railways blocked with debris. Many of the victims drowned, unable to climb onto roofs to escape rising water.
In the Japanese city of Kurashiki, about 300 residents took refuge on the upper floors of a hospital. But there was no drinking water or electricity, and sanitation became a worry. Japanese troops manoeuvred a boat alongside and survivors climbed into it.
Elsewhere in Kurashiki and nearby, more than 1,000 people were reported trapped on rooftops after a river bank burst.
Japan's prime minister said it was a race against time to help survivors.
There's damage across large parts of western Japan. In just a few hours, some neighbourhoods had more rainfall than they usually get in a month.
The worst-hit areas appeared to be around the city of Hiroshima. Landslides struck homes and blocked roads. Officials said it was impossible to assess conditions in some villages because they are cut off.
In the city of Kyoto several people were found dead inside collapsed housing. And in Ehime Prefecture two girls and their mother died in a mudslide.
Japan has some of the world's most advanced infrastructure. Along major rivers, levees are built to contain floods, and small rivers often are lined with concrete to disperse surges.
But every year intense rain strikes locally, often overcoming defences. Forecasters are unable to predict which neighbourhoods will be struck most.