It’s been two years since the deadly earthquake and tsunami ravaged Japan, destroying homes and triggering a nuclear disaster. Although the 8.9-magnitude earthquake and subsequent deluge killed thousands and leveled towns, there was one stark reminder of the planet’s resilience: an 88-foot pine tree that refused to succumb to the onslaught. It stood as the last remaining member of what was once a forest of 70,000 trees along the coast in Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture. This week officials unveiled a massive sculpture that memorializes the special tree, and serves as a quiet reminder of nature’s power.
In the days following the disasters, the residents of Iwate Prefecture took to calling the tree “the miracle pine“. And indeed, the fact that it was still standing, the only forest tree to survive the earthquake and pounding waves, was nothing short of a miracle. As the water receded, however, it became obvious that the tree would not survive. Too much saline had soaked into the soil, poisoning its roots.
The people worked quickly to preserve what was now a historical and emotional symbol. In September 2012, the tree was cut down, its leaves and branches cast out of giant molds to recreate its shape. The branches, made of reinforced plastic, were cast around carbon-fiber poles. On March 6th, the tree’s upper half was attached to the newly cast trunk, allowing ” the miracle pine” to live on for posterity.
Second image via yisris/Flickr