Japanese 'miracle' pine returns to tsunami-hit town
A pine tree that became a symbol of hope after it survived the March 2011 tsunami in north-east Japan was opened to the public in the devastated town of Rikuzentakata on Wednesday.
The 250-year-old ‘miracle’ pine -- the only one among 70,000 trees left standing along the town’s coastline after the disaster -- initially survived, but was removed last September after its roots died from exposure to salt water.
Experts preserved the 27-metre (89 ft) tall tree in its near-original state by inserting a metal skeleton into its trunk and adding replica branches and leaves made from a synthetic resin.
In response to criticism of the projected cost of the project, the town decided to raise money from donations and easily exceeded its target of 150m yen (£1m).
An estimated 1,700 people died in Rikuzentakata after it was engulfed by waves up to 13 metres high on the afternoon of March 11 2011.
After the water had receded, only a handful of buildings remained standing. “For those of us who were left suffering after the disaster, the miracle pine gave us the strength and hope to carry on living,” mayor Futoshi Toba said at an unveiling ceremony.
The tree, which was returned to its original location last month, will be lit up every night for the next year as a mark of respect for the victims.
1,700 Number of people who died in Rikuzentakata during the tsunami