Cherry trees planted as tsunami caution for future
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Last Updated: Monday, March 05, 2012, 17:08
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 disaster.

"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 311.'

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.


First Published: Monday, March 05, 2012, 17:08

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