The only tree left standing in the Japanese town of Rikuzentakata, after the disastrous earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan in 2011, was completely restored and opened to public on Wednesday.
The 250-year-old pine is seen as a symbol of life and hope after it became the only tree to survive the March 2011 tsunami among 70,000 other trees spread on the town’s coastline.
The 27-metre pine was initially alive, but it had to be removed last September after its roots died due to the exposure to salt water. It was preserved by experts almost in its original state by inserting a metal skeleton into its trunk and adding replica branches and leaves made from a synthetic resin, according to the international press.
More than Y150 million were invested in the restoration project, with money being obtained from donations in Japan and abroad.
An estimated 1,700 people died in Rikuzentakata after it was engulfed by waves up to 13 metres high on the afternoon of 11 March 2011.
“For those of us who were left suffering after the disaster, the miracle pine gave us the strength and hope to carry on living,” the town’s mayor, Futoshi Toba, whose wife died in the tsunami, said at an unveiling ceremony.
The flattened area closest to the sea will be turned into a disaster-prevention and memorial park, with the “miracle” pine as its centerpiece.