Pine tree replanting project starts in tsunami-hit Rikuzentakata

A project to replant pine trees began Saturday on the coast of the northeastern Japan city of Rikuzentakata that was destroyed in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. A total of around 40,000 pine trees are expected to be planted on the Pacific coast of the city in Iwate Prefecture by the end of March 2020, with a budget of around 1.35 billion yen ($12.13 million), according to the prefectural government. Before the massive tsunami wiped out the Takatamatsubara pine forest, around 70,000 pines stretched for 2 kilometers along the beach, attracting many tourists. The original pine trees were planted in the Edo period (1603-1868) as a tidewater control forest. The 2011 disaster swept away all but one tree. The lone pine became a symbol of hope but had to be cut down due to excessive sea salt deposited by the tsunami. It was used subsequently for a monument called the "miracle pine tree." At a commemoration ceremony, around 300 people planted 1,250 saplings from Iwate Prefecture and other parts of the country. "I participated in the event as I wanted to help with the reconstruction of the area," said Ibuki Maeta, 11, a sixth grader from an elementary school in the city of Kurayoshi, Tottori Prefecture. Maeta said he knows how dreadful earthquakes can be after experiencing a big one last year in the western Japan prefecture.

May 27, 2017 | KYODO NEWS