RIKUZENTAKATA, Iwate -- Young pine trees are growing again along this city's coastline thanks to efforts to restore the famed pine groves swept away by tsunami triggered in the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
Before the quake, the about 2-kilometer-long stretch of beach was lush with some 70,000 pine trees, and it was a popular spot for beachgoers that even became designated a place of scenic beauty by the national government.
But the massive tsunami in 2011 swallowed the Takata Matsubara pine groves, leaving behind a sole tree that came to be known as the "miracle pine." About 90% of the beach was also lost to the tsunami and ground subsidence the earthquake triggered.
Following the disaster, a citizens group aiming to restore and protect the Takata Matsubara pine groves was entrusted with seeds extracted from pine cones a woman in a neighboring town collected a year before the tsunami. In partnership with the Iwate Prefectural Government and the Rikuzentakata Municipal Government, the group has since strived to restore the beloved pine groves.
Their target of planting 40,000 pine saplings in the area is expected to be reached by the end of this month.
"We'd like to pass down the pine groves as a treasure belonging to local people," said 72-year-old Katsuji Chida, the group's deputy head.
(Japanese original by Koichiro Tezuka, Photo Group)