Cherry trees planted as tsunami caution for future

Organizers believe that a lack of knowledge among local residents regarding tsunamis may have worsened the human cost.

Rikuzentakata (Japan): Residents of the
tsunami-ravaged coastal city of Rikuzentakata in Iwate
Prefecture have launched a project to plant cherry trees
marking the points where waves reached on March 11 last year
to warn future generations about a repeat of the catastrophe.

Organizers of the project have been motivated by the
belief that indifference and a lack of knowledge among local
residents regarding gigantic tsunamis that struck the city in
the past may have worsened the human cost of last year`s

"Having lost many friends and acquaintances due to the
tsunami, I regret that we had no knowledge of inland points
where waves had reached in the past. I don`t want future
generations to feel the same way," says Takumi Hashizume, 34,
representative of the project titled `Sakura (Cherry) Line

Hashizume, leader of the city`s youth association and a
member of a local fire company, was inspired by the idea of
Rikuzentakata Mayor Futoshi Toba unveiled last summer in his
book to plant cherry trees somewhere in memory of the March
disaster and came up with the project with his fellow youth
group members and others with links to the city.

The group eventually aims to plant about 17,000 cherry
trees every 10 meters in a line stretching some 170 kilometers
in the city in the project that would cost up to 100 million
yen in total, including the cost of procuring saplings,
fertilizer and equipment for tree planting, as well as
operational expenses for the activities.

Volunteers from other parts of Japan who learned of the
project began planting saplings and trees in November last
year. They are scheduled to plant more than 100 saplings on
March 11 and the number of trees planted is expected to reach
about 270 by the end of March, Hashizume said.

In response to a call for support by the group through
the media, schools, municipalities and individuals across
Japan have donated cherry saplings, and many owners of land in
Rikuzentakata where the tsunami reached have offered to let
the group plant cherry trees.


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