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Friday, October 14, 2016

The Giving Tree

When is a tree not a tree? When it's a statue.

No... not funny, merely poignant.

The image above to the left shows the only tree to survive out of some 70,000 trees, when the tsunami hit Rikuzentakata, Iwate-ken (Iwate prefecture) on March 11, 20111.

While nearly 19,000 people died, with over 300,000 left homeless, this one pine tree survived the onslaught of the wave, becoming a beacon of resilience for the Japanese people.

And then it died.

Having lived for 173 years, and having survived other notable tsunami in 1896 and 1933, in October of 2012 the tree died from complications owing to a change in its climate—namely the saltwater helped bring about giant mold spores that killed its root system.

Naturally, there was a fair bit of moral outrage about the Japanese government not doing enough to save the the tree, but to be fair the country of Japan was in the midst of trying to recover from the disaster, money was spread thin, with very little of it trickling down to those dircetly affected by the disaster.

Can you imagine the PR disaster if the government cared more about trying to save a tree, than spending money elsewhere to try and get those affected by the disaster some sense of normalacy?

Still, Japan's government did realize that the tree was a symbol of some import to the people of the area, and after cutting down the dead pine (in nine sections), they created a hollow wood-skinned statue with a carbon center.

It's like the world's biggest unsharpened pencil.

Andrew Joseph
PS: A pencil is a writing instrument used in the Dark Ages before home computers et al.

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