'Miracle pine tree' in Kashima to fall(かしまの一本松...永遠に 12月27日伐採)

Kazuo Goga, chairman of a group seeking to preserve the miracle pine tree(「寂しいが、新たな観光地にする区切りになれば」と話す五賀会長と「かしまの一本松」=13日午前、南相馬市鹿島区南右田)

 A lone pine tree in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, that miraculously survived the tsunami after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and became a symbol of reconstruction, will be cut down on Dec. 27. The tree is dying and there is a project to build a new forest for damage prevention.
 "I feel sad and disappointed, but the tree's offspring is growing [in another location] from its branches and seeds. The lone pine tree will continue to represent the heart and soul of the people afflicted by the disaster," said Kazuo Goga, 77, the chairman of a group to preserve the miracle pine tree.


 The felling of the tree has already been scheduled. Known as "Kashima's lone pine tree," it is located in an area in the Kashima district where the quake-triggered tsunami claimed the lives of 54 people and washed away all 70 houses.
 Now, nearly the whole area has been designated a hazardous disaster area, where construction of new residences is not allowed.


 According to Goga, the tree is about 25 meters tall and about 200 years old, making it a witness to lives in the area for a long time. The pine trees that used to stretch for three kilometers across the area were either washed out to sea or died as a result of the 15-meter-high tsunami. The lone pine was the only one to withstand the tsunami. Local residents tried to preserve it as "Kashima's hope," in conjunction with their efforts for disaster reconstruction.


 But the tree's condition deteriorated from around the autumn of 2014, with its leaves becoming discolored. In addition to the tsunami, high tides and the retention of rainwater have apparently aggravated the tree's condition.
 The group sprayed an activating agent to try and keep the tree from dying. They also entrusted its branches and seeds in January 2015 to the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, in an attempt to preserve the tree's offspring.
 The offspring has developed steadily and will be planted in a corner of the forest for damage prevention that the Fukushima prefectural government plans to develop in the area.


 ◆Recycled into timber products
 According to Goga, the group will utilize the lone pine tree after it is cut down, planning to make nameplates and ocarinas, based on the tree's condition. There has also been discussion about building a memorial park where the tree is currently located. The tree will also be lit up on Dec. 23 and Dec. 24 just before it is cut down.
 Goga said the park "will become a place to connect people from the area who are now dispersed and to hand down lessons from the disaster to future generations."


 Even now, visitors come one after another from inside and outside Fukushima Prefecture to see the lone pine tree, which is regarded as a symbol of reconstruction.

( Translated by The Japan News )


 【 2017年11月14日付・福島民友新聞掲載 】