Last week’s post was about Tokkuri (とっくり / 徳利), so this week I need to start with り (ri). A big thank you to japanaustralia for suggesting ringo (りんご / apple), risu (りす / squirrel) and rika (理科 / science). However, this week I have decided to write about…
Rikuzentakata (りくぜんたかた / 陸前高田)
Rikuzentakata City (陸前高田市 / Rikuzentakata-shi) is a city in Iwate Prefecture, Japan. On 11th March 2011 when Tohoku (northeastern Japan) was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami, Rikuzentakata was practically wiped off the map. Nearly 2,000 people died there, and almost all of the buildings were washed away. On 14th March 2011, Rikuzentakata looked like this:
(Image source: The Guardian; Photograph: Asahi Shimbun/ EPA)
I’ve never been to Rikuzentakata before, and had never even heard of it before the disaster. It’s not the kind of place that many tourists would go to. I’ve been searching the internet for pictures of what it looked like before March 2011, and it’s been hard to find anything. Most of the pictures I came across (from after the disaster) show piles of rubble and in some pictures it was even possible to see hands sticking out of the debris. I don’t want to share those kinds of images here today because Rikuzentakata, like the rest of Tohoku, has had to focus on rebuilding and looking to the future.
I did find a couple of images from before 2011. Rikuzentakata was such a beautiful place…
Although so much of Rikuzentakata was wiped out, something was left standing. Before the tsunami, there were around 70,000 pine trees along the beach of Rikuzentakata.
After the tsunami, just one remained.
Standing as a symbol of strength against the disaster, the solitary pine tree has become known as “Ippon-matsu of Rikuzentakata” (陸前高田の一本松) and also as the “miracle pine” or “tree of hope”.
A few days ago I read in the Japan Times that fundraising has begun to save the tree. Actually, the pine tree is no longer living (its roots have been rotted by seawater), but because of the “miracle” of its survival against the tsunami, funds are being sought to preserve it as a symbol of reconstruction. The article states that “At least ¥150 million [about £1.2 million] will be initially necessary to prevent the tree from rotting and to maintain its current conditions“. Donations can be made via Facebook, using a very easy-to-use application which accepts credit cards or PayPal.
Municipal funds cannot be used to save the pine tree, so the “Miracle Tree Rescue Project” is calling on people around the world to contribute to preserve the pine tree using artificial means and maintain the surrounding environment.
Rikuzentakata may have been practically wiped off the map by the tsunami, but it’s been firmly placed on my map of “places to visit” as I plan my trip to Tohoku (still not sure when I’ll be going, but perhaps in the summer of 2013). The Takata-Matsubara (高田松原) – the 2km stretch of shoreline that was lined with approximately 70,000 pines and selected in 1927 as one of the 100 Landscapes of Japan (Shōwa era) and in 1940 designated a Place of Scenic Beauty – may have been reduced to one solitary tree, but the spirit of survival is strong in Rikuzentakata, and I have a feeling people of Tohoku are going to keep fighting.
(Image source: Facebook)
(Feature image source: Japan Society of the UK)
Rikuzentakata (りくぜんたかた) ends with た (ta), so next week I will be looking for a noun beginning with “ta”. If you have any suggestions, please leave them below and I’ll give you a mention next week! And, don’t forget, no words ending in ん! (^_^)v