'Miracle' pine tree monument almost ready for anniversary

March 07, 2013

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

RIKUZENTAKATA, Iwate Prefecture--Just in time for the second anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, the "miracle pine" is about to be reborn, with the top section of the tree, containing the needles and branches, being attached on March 6.

Work is expected to wind down by March 10, almost two years to the day the tsunami spawned by the March 11, 2011, earthquake left it as the only tree still standing in scenic Takata-Matsubara forest.

The pine later died due to the saline soil left behind by the retreating seawater and was felled in September 2012 for long-term preservation.

The leaves and branches were cast out of a mold at a factory in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, to recreate the shape of the tree. The top section was lifted by a massive crane onto the recreated pine on March 6.

The section is 7.7 meters high and weighs 1.4 tons. The branches, made of reinforced plastic, were cast around carbon-fiber poles.

The same day, an official stamp made from part of the original branch of the miracle pine was presented to Rikuzentakata Mayor Futoshi Toba.

It was carved by a group of the national association of seal manufacturers. Kazuya Nakahara, who heads the association's liaison council, presented the seal to the mayor.

Nakahara offered to make a seal out of the original pine tree when it was to be felled, a request that was accepted, and the city gave him a piece of a branch.

With pine wood being too soft for a stamp, the manufacturer reinforced it by infusing it with resin.

The design of the 3 centimeter-square stamp had been chosen from among 31 entries sent by seal makers across the nation.

It was placed in a Paulownia box with a vermillion ink pad. The words written inside the lid read, “Praying for recovery from disaster.”

“Stamps are valuable things one uses at one’s life’s turning points,” Nakahara said to the mayor. “We instilled it with our thoughts as we inscribed the stamp.”

Toba said, “I want to use this when I send a certificate of gratitude to people who extended help regarding the lone pine tree. I feel I have to keep the stamp for future generations along with memories of the disaster.”

(This article was compiled from reports by Kazumasa Sugimura, Toshio Kikuchi and Mika Kuniyoshi.)

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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The leaves and branches of the "miracle pine" are attached to the trunk at its original site in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, on March 6. (Shingo Kuzutani)

The leaves and branches of the "miracle pine" are attached to the trunk at its original site in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, on March 6. (Shingo Kuzutani)

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  • The leaves and branches of the "miracle pine" are attached to the trunk at its original site in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, on March 6. (Shingo Kuzutani)
  • A new official stamp of the mayor of Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, made out of the branch of the "miracle pine tree" (Mika Kuniyoshi)

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