picture of the day

Miracle pine

57 Comments

A replica of the pine tree which survived the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, is seen in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, on Saturday. The tree, dubbed the "miracle pine," is now being restored after preservative treatment.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

57 Comments
Login to comment

...and this road leads to....? nowhere.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Wouldn't be complete without the guard. Where's his light-stick?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

If it is a replica then it did not really survive now, did it?

19 ( +22 / -3 )

A replica of a pine tree is not a miracle. Enough of the phony symbols of reconstruction (Tokyo Olympics included). Huge sums have been spent on this image of recovery, while if you look at the surrounding landscape it is still completely barren.

Hundreds of thousands of people still living in temporary housing two years after the disaster. Shame on the government of this country.

8 ( +15 / -7 )

I have MASSIVE issues with the 'miracle' pine. They cut down the actual living tree, dried it out and inserted a carbon fiber mast through the centre and then replaced the needles (leaves) with plastic replicas.

Epic stupidity on an epically stupid scale. Why, you couldn't out stupid that idea with a team of highly paid stupidity consultants.

Be all like; "This IS stupid, but we can do something even stupider". But they couldn't. Because the 'miracle tree' is quite simply the stupidest use of tax money ever.

16 ( +19 / -3 )

Replant the whole grove. Ten years from now it'll look a lot better than one lone pine standing next to the bridge.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Miracle Pine gets huge attention while these voiceless Tsunami victims remain homeless. It is just too phony, and I am careless. It is sending me an impression Japan takes care of Miracle Pine first before their own people. Shame.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I don't get all the negative comments. Cute, fake little trees that can stand as a symbol and image of the heroic Great Eastern Japan Earthquake recovery efforts, help win important events like the Olympics and help re-elect important politicians are surely more useful and important than silly inconsequential things like people having a roof over their heads.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Good message for the millions around the world who donated to help human victims of the disaster...that while the world mourns and stands by those who have lost dear ones and belongings, Japan sinks the money in a fake "miracle tree" shrine...

3 ( +7 / -4 )

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/stress-a-major-health-issue-for-dsplaced-fukushima-residents I wonder how much this so called "miracle tree" helps these stressed and displaced victims.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Baka Baka shi!

2 ( +6 / -4 )

What a great Icon for the disfunctional state of affairs in Japan.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

If it is a replica then it did not really survive now, did it?

Meaning it was left standing, out of hundreds, after the tsunami. The salt content of the soil killed it, but it did survive the tsunami, which makes it a symbol for these people.

I have MASSIVE issues with the 'miracle' pine. They cut down the actual living tree, dried it out and inserted a carbon fiber mast through the centre and then replaced the needles (leaves) with plastic replicas.

The 270-year-old tree is a symbol. Of course it will disintegrate without human intervention. It was being killed by the salt content in the soil. Should they just have made a bronze of the whole tree, and not use any of the original tree? Would that be more 'real' as a memorial?

Then we don't need the Statue of Liberty, but should hire someone to stand there with a torch, shouldn't build the Twin Towers Memorial, or respect the bronze statue of the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima either then. They're not 'real', they don't mean anything, a waste of money and space.

No? Why not? Because it is only those individuals who go through a particular tragedy who can decide how much it affects them, and what symbols resonate with them. Americans were incensed to hear people in other countries make comments like 'What's the big deal? It's just a couple of buildings' about 9/11. To Americans it was much more than that, wasn't it?

Seriously, the knee-jerk bashing that occurs here is nothing short of cultural superiority, or a total lack of perspective and empathy. Who are any of you to say what the residents of those towns should or should not pick as a symbol, and how much it's worth to them?

-9 ( +6 / -15 )

So they cut down the real, live one, in order to make a replica somewhere else while embalming the original, now very dead, one? Wasted funds much?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Himajin you miss the point entirely. The Statue of Liberty, Twin Towers, Iwo Jima memorial, etc are there to honour something or someone. They are not based on a blatant "miracle" lie and were not erected with funds better spent on feeding and housing people still displaced by disaster.

This is clearly another example of the arrogance and stupidity in Japanese politicians. Nothing more, nothing less.

4 ( +13 / -9 )

Who are any of you to say what the residents of those towns should or should not pick as a symbol, and how much it's worth to them?

Himajin - do you honestly believe ordinary citizens were given a voice in the matter? Why don't you go up to Rikuzentakata and ask those living in shelters if propping up a metal tree is more important than a house?

6 ( +14 / -8 )

Maybe not so illogical. Think about all those millions of future tourists with their cameras and camera phones.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The locals were praying at the tree, and were leaving offerings there , that speaks for itself, doesn't it? The funds for the tree were solicited with a special Facebook page, and has nothing to do with housing.

Should we tear down the Kobe wall on Awaji, then? Seeing as it's most likely a waste of money in your opinion, no matter what it means to the people of Kobe.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

The tree DID survive intact....and lived for several months. The point, if you read the Japanese material on it, is that it stood up against the wave, not whether it died afterwards or not. The tree remaining standing in the face of the wave is the point.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

do you honestly believe ordinary citizens were given a voice in the matter?

I'm gonna guess that you hosedfella have no idea either way.

Why don't you go up to Rikuzentakata and ask those living in shelters if propping up a metal tree is more important than a house?

Why don't you and other anonymous detached bashers go up there yourself, lest you actually start learning something. I'll be near this tree either later this month or next month if you need more information about how many locals feel about it.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

This is clearly another example of the arrogance and stupidity in Japanese politicians. Nothing more, nothing less.

Clearly.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

silly inconsequential things like people having a roof over their heads.

They have rooves over their heads. Don't let facts get in the way of silly inconsequential statements however.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Thanks, Daijoboots.

Cripes, the high-handed manner in which people on this site pontificate about things they know nothing about is damned near embarrassing to read at times. 'It's wrong because I said so!' Whoopee.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Readers, please stop bickering.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Readers, we asked you all to stop bickering. From here on, such posts will be removed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Himajin: "Then we don't need the Statue of Liberty..."

Well, you don't need all the replicas of the Statue of Liberty they have in Japan, at any rate. But other posters are correct -- the tree is dead, and therefore the 'miracle' of its survival is as well. All of the money put into 'saving' the tree could have housed PEOPLE who survived.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Himajin - do you honestly believe ordinary citizens were given a voice in the matter? Why don't you go up to Rikuzentakata and ask those living in shelters if propping up a metal tree is more important than a house?

Have you been up there yourself? It's quite a bog assumption you're making.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The 'miracle' was it's survival of the tsunami.

By this logic we need to take down Hachiko, because, well, the dog's dead.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

I understand this tree is special but I still think the funds could have gone to something else...

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I think the "tsunami warning stones" placed by the ancients were a much better and more useful monument to the passing of a tsunami.

Unfortunately, they were ignored.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

It's a miracle some idiots came up with the idea .

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

You can call it a "miracle" pine but since it apparently doesn't have the title of "natural monument" it doesn't have more value than just the value of a cultural symbol.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

To answer the comment in post one.

This road leads to hope. I was there in April 2011 and this road like many in the area wasnt open. It, like the town of Rikuzentaka had been destroyed. 10% of the total victims came from this small town. The politicians are led by tge mayor, a man who had been in the job for a month before the tsunami and a man whose wife's body wss found 6 weeks later. The people of Rikuzentakata lost their town. The devastation there started 7km from the ocean. They lost 1900 citizens.

Miraculously from hundreds if not thousands of trees one wasn't washed away.

None of you seem to understand the symbolism of hope that this tree brings. Is right? I don't know but I do wonder why you all seem better placed to comment than they are.

If you disagree go up and talk to them. It's pretty wasy to access now. Again creating hope for those there.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Why would people from outside of Rikuzentakata go to visit something which is only significant to the people of Rikuzentakata? But it IS significant to the families there.

I'm presuming that given you haven't answered my question then it's fair to assume that you haven't been there. So how do you know what is best for the people there.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

think the "tsunami warning stones" placed by the ancients were a much better and more useful monument to the passing of a tsunami.Unfortunately, they were ignored.

In Rikuzentakata, like most of the Tohoku coasts, they have signs 'expected tsunami area ends'. This is based on the historical evidence. I have a photo of one such sign from Rikuzentakata. It was wrong. 500 metres past that point the devastation continued.

So many people have formed opinions based on what they've read in the media. So many opinions are wrong.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

No bickering please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So how do you know what is best for the people there.

OK, maybe you have a point... it's up to local people to decide what gives them hope or not.

But I can't help but think it is part of the government agenda... by placing emphasis on "symbols of hope" and browbeating people into supporting that effort they can conveniently divert attention away from government failures, both before and after the disaster.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

That's assuming that central government actually think about the individual towns in the area. Given the lack of progress that's been made, its a big assumption to think that they actually think at that level.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I have a photo of one such sign from Rikuzentakata. It was wrong. 500 metres past that point the devastation continued.

I think you misinterpreted what I was trying to say.

What I am suggesting is, instead of a plastic pine tree, they put up stone memorials, much as the ancients did.

The location you have indicated, to the point where the devastation reached would be ideal.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

but as much as I scour the news looking for a healing pilgrimage to the dead carcass, I can't find it. Could it b just another myth created by politicians to justify another expensive tourism boondoggle? Of course it is..

From the Mayor of Rikuzentakata on the Miracle Pine Rescue Project: "The 'tree of hope' is the one lone pine tree out of 70,000 that survived the tsunami. This tree that has given us so much hope can no longer stand on its own, but we want to leave it as a symbol as we work towards recovery. We would be most grateful for your assistance."

http://www.city.rikuzentakata.iwate.jp/kategorie/fukkou/ipponmatu/ipponmatu.html

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I brought the.mayor up because people seemed to be blaming politicians. He's a local politician.

And yes, he's upset with the lack of progress thats been made but how is that relevant to this tree?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

And yes, he's upset with the lack of progress thats been made but how is that relevant to this tree?

Heda Madness - have you stopped to consider that the only thing the pine tree symbolizes is the govt's head in the sand attitude towards actually helping the people themselves?

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

have you stopped to consider that the only thing the pine tree symbolizes is the govt's head in the sand attitude towards actually helping the people themselves?

That's really not it.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

That's really not it.

excellent point-by-point counter argument as to why I am mistaken. I stand corrected.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

My problem with the so-called "miracle pine tree" is why it took so much money to take care of it in the first place. If people were so desirous of a symbol of survival and hope why wasn't there one Parks department or horticulturalist or green house owner who was willing to foot the bill to take care of the tree?

There was a pear tree which survived the 9/11 disasters, was nursed back to health at the Parks Department's Arthur Ross Nursery in Van Cortlandt Park and has since been replanted on the grounds of the new World Trade Center site. Tax dollars support the Parks Department. Is there nothing similar in Japan whereby a neighboring prefecture could have done the work necessary with the pine tree without needing donations?

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/15/tree-that-survived-911-absorbs-another-blow/

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

horsefella, have you stopped to consider that this has nothing to do with central government? And it's only a local decision?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Why would people from outside of Rikuzentakata go to visit something which is only significant to the people of Rikuzentakata?

But they do. People from all over are still coming to the Kobe quake site on Awaji, many come to photograph the wall from Nagata. Why do people from outside New York go to Ground Zero?

ambrosia, they tried really hard to save it for months, they tried to get the salt out of the soil, they worked hard to try and save it.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

That's actually a good point. So the people are coming to the local area and spending money in the local economy.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Himajin: ambrosia, they tried really hard to save it for months, they tried to get the salt out of the soil, they worked hard to try and save it.

I never said they didn't try to save it. That wasn't my point at all. My point was why did they ask for money to be spent on saving it? Was there no individual, company or government department such as a division in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries that could have done this as part of their regular work? Why was extra money needed for this symbol if it was so important?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Himajin: Why do people from outside New York go to Ground Zero?

Apples and oranges. 9/11 was an attack on America. Politics aside, it was purposely aimed at a symbolic target of America's economic power, or because Ramzi Ahmed Yousef thought the majority of people who worked in the building were Jewish. Take your pick of reasons but it's not at all similar to a natural disaster which occurred in a relatively limited and unpopulated area of the country, no matter how tragic both incidents were.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Readers, please stay on topic. 9/11 and other analogies are not relevant to this discussion.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

People reflect on disaster, natural or man made, and things like the World Trade Center Memorial, the pine tree, and the Nagata wall are all focal points for mourning and remembering.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

And you still haven't answered my question as to why private donations were solicited to save this important symbol of hope.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I don't think preserving trees is the usual work of the forestry department...it was done in Kyoto. I wouldn't think they would have had the equipment or technology handy to inject a tree with resin and make casts of branches, that is pretty specialized work, not common in forestry at all. As to why money was solicited, first of all I think it commendable that they did ask for donations to support it, and didn't fudge and use taxpayer monies or disaster donations. I assume donations were necessary because the laboratory in Kyoto that treated the tree couldn't do it for free. It's asking a lot to expect the company in Kyoto (Yoshida Biological Laboratory)to donate $1.9 million of their services for free.

My point continues to be that no one but those involved in a disaster like this have any say in what those individuals find inspiring and/or comforting, and how much they spend to attain it. If one doesn't like some project, charity or other , don't donate. If you don't donate it has nothing to do with you. I take it no one on this thread did, so where does all the indignation come from?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

himajin: I don't think preserving trees is the usual work of the forestry department...it was done in Kyoto

The tree wasn't preserved, at least not in the way that the Forestry Department preserves trees.

I wouldn't think they would have had the equipment or technology handy to inject a tree with resin and make casts of branches,

Yet another reason why I disagree with your previous analogy. This isn't the so-called miracle pine tree. That tree is dead. This is a plastic replica of it.

My point continues to be that no one but those involved in a disaster like this have any say in what those individuals find inspiring and/or comforting, and how much they spend to attain it. If one doesn't like some project, charity or other , don't donate.

You're right. I haven't, will not and have actively discouraged others from doing so.

I take it no one on this thread did, so where does all the indignation come from?

I can't speak for other posters but will say for myself that I don't feel indignation so much as I do incredulousness at the bizarre nature of "saving" a dead tree so that it can be sealed in plastic and used as a means to draw tourism to an area that is still in dire need of so many other basic things. How much nicer would it have been to have made a bench or some other sort of carving, display, etc. out of the tree and then planted real trees in that area? If trees couldn't have been planted then they could have tried one of the wildflower fields that have been planted in other areas up there and had the wildflowers surround the bench or carving..

My point continues to be that no one but those involved in a disaster like this have any say in what those individuals find inspiring and/or comforting, and how much they spend to attain it

You're absolutely right. And just as they have the right to be inspired by a "miracle" tree that didn't really survive we have the right to to find the source of their inspiration misguided and silly. One might ask why you seem to have such a vested interest in convincing the rest of us that this project was a worthwhile one.

Apparently it's not just posters here who think this is idiotic.

http://www.npr.org/2012/12/15/167321226/miracle-tree-stands-tall-in-japan-after-tsunami

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

You quoted it, you have my answer right there.

Showing me numbers of people thinking it's 'idiotic' is irrelevant. This is my opinion. You won't change my mind by showing me that people don't agree with me. I'm not really a 'swayed by numbers' person on things like this, I form my own opinions and stand by them. Having an opinion isn't a popularity contest.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Every time I pass there are people at the tree. Taking photos.

The forest will be replanted eventually, but it won't look like a pine forest in my lifetime.

Local opinion on this investment is mixed. The money has not come from taxes, or any other general donations - all is from donations specifically for this project and it has been locally planned and executed. The locals who promoted and supported it, are largely people who lost their homes and friends or family in the tsunam - people like the mayor.

It has nothing to do with the central government. Nothing to do with foreign donations for tsunami relief. It has nothing to do with "stress in Fukushima" (buy a map, FFS)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites