New Moai statue puts down roots in Minamisanriku

Kyodo

A replacement Moai statue from Chile was installed Thursday in the town of Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, as a gift to help the tsunami-hit residents recover.

It took about two hours for a crane to lift the 2-ton, 3-meter-high replica of one of Easter Island’s famed statues from a shopping mall parking lot to its new pedestal.

“We appreciate it. It would be nice if more tourists came along (to see it) and speed up reconstruction,” said grocery store owner Yasunori Chiba, 45.

Minamisanriku was hit by tsunami from the big earthquake that struck Chile in 1960. To deepen ties, Chile donated a Moai statue to the town in 1991. After it was damaged by the quake and tsunami of March 2011, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera promised to send a new one.

The original replica was made with stone from the mainland. The new one, made with stone from Easter Island, arrived last December and was displayed in Tokyo and Osaka.