The city of Rikuzentakata in Iwate Prefecture has completed the restoration of a “miracle pine tree”, called as such because it was the only tree that survived the March 11, 2011 tsunami out of the 70,000 pine trees in the area. The trees are believed to have been planted in the Edo period. The tree later died, but the city completed the controversial restoration on March 6.
The restoration plan involved cutting the tree down, treating the wood with preservative, inserting a metal skeleton into the trunk to completely preserve it as a commemorative monument. The now-preserved trunk of the tree has been set back on the site, complete with branches and leaves that had been replicated using synthetic resin. The original tree was sawed into manageable pieces in September last year after seawater from the tsunami had damaged it. And now, after six months, the 27-meter tree now stands back in its original place as a replica.
“It’s returned at last. I’m convinced that the tree will cheer us up,” said Yoshihisa Suzuki, 68, president of the Association for the Preservation of Takatamatsubara. The city government worked to restore the tree as a symbol of recovery from the March disaster, and allotted $1.6 million to complete the project. The huge price tag drew a lot of strong criticism from the online community, as they said that the large amount of money could well be spent for better purposes. Netizens were furious at the cost involved and branded the project as silly. The city continued and completed the project despite the flak it received.