Miyagi Prefecture, an area that was hit by the violent tsunami in 2011, hosts a special piece of “graffiti” in Ishinomaki’s Ogatsu: a painted cherry tree whose blossoms are made by people leaving their pink and red-painted palm prints as a sign of hope for the locals.
Initially, a bare tree was painted on a wall at the Arahama public beach, but then the tree started to “sprout” cherry blossoms printed by residents or visitors. The four meter long and forty meter wide wall was built last December by a plasterer from Gifu Prefecture together with other volunteers. It was named “Ogatsu kibo no campus” or Ogatsu wish campus, according to the local press.
People then started to leave pictures and messages on the wall, as a collective way of giving hope and courage to the survivors of the tsunami.
Last March 30-31, about 200 people from all over Japan gathered in front of the wall and contributed their palm-painted prints, turning the wall into a wonderful cherry blossom three. Akira Komatsu, 38, a vice chairman of the committee for the canvas project said the locals have been quite sad lately because reconstruction in the area is going rather slow.
Many of the residents have since moved away, so the canvas project is trying to make those who stayed to come together and smile again, he said. Ikuyo Takahashi, 78, one of the ones who stayed, wants to sit beneath the cherry tree and “wait for everyone who left to come back”.