The Takata Matsubara pine forest was planted in the Edo Period (1600s Japan) in what is present day Rikuzentakata in order to block strong coastal winds from interfering with local agriculture. Over centuries the 6,200 saplings grew both in height and number, and by the Twentieth Century the Takata Matsubara pine forest was a marvel, seventy thousand trees strong and a favorite location of locals and travelers alike. It was even officially designated as one of the top 100 views in Japan.
However, March 11, 2011, was the day that nobody saw coming. The pine forest that Rikuzentakata held so dear was washed away, cruelly and suddenly, by the fifteen-meter waves of a tsunami, along with hundreds of buildings and almost two thousand lives. All that was left was a single tree, standing bold and solitary against a now unobstructed view of the ocean.
While the citizens of Rikuzentakata of course mourned the loss of their forest, as they mourned the losses of their homes and loved ones, they looked to the single pine tree to remind themselves that they could not be completely destroyed. They looked to the pine tree to remind themselves, “After all of this, we are still here.”
A little while after the tsunami, the Miracle Pine, as it had been named, died from taking in too much sea water. However, a fundraising project was started to preserve the tree and turn the site into a monument, honoring those lost in the disaster and inspiring hope for future and present generations.
Now, the tree stands strong, with its original bark but a new iron center and artificial leaves. Thanks to the generosity of its donors, the tree will continue to stand, to inspire hope, and to remind the world that Rikuzentakata is still here, and we can’t be knocked down or washed away.