New bid to spruce up ‘miracle pine’

Kyodo

Work started Monday to modify the appearance of the preserved “miracle pine” that withstood the March 2011 tsunami that devastated Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, after the public complained that it looked wrong.

The tree, the only one still standing out of a coastal grove of some 70,000 pines hit by the quake-spawned tsunami, became a symbol of Rikuzentakata’s resilience.

Because its roots were exposed to seawater, the tree died shortly after the waves hit, although it remained upright, prompting efforts to preserve it. The tree was cut down in two main sections for preservation work before it was reassembled and put back up at its original site.

Although the restoration work was to be completed in March to meet the second anniversary of the disaster, citizens complained that the preserved pine looked different from the original, and that its replica branches were wrongly positioned.

The city thus began work to alter its current shape. It hopes to complete the project by the end of June and hold a ceremony in early July to celebrate the final restoration.

The city has collected more than ¥125 million in donations for the task.