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Japan: City preserves tsunami 'dragon tree'

  • Published at 12:11 pm August 3rd, 2015

A Japanese city has vowed to preserve a pine tree that survived the country's devastating tsunami but is now rotting, it's reported.

Local residents bow to the "dragon pine tree," which survived the 2011 disaster, before felling the tree on July 29 in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture. Photo:Takeshi Aose

The tree withstood the enormous wave which struck the coastal city of Kesennuma in 2011, killing hundreds of local people. It was badly damaged in the disaster, losing most of its branches, but its new shape attracted many visitors who thought it resembled a dragon. The tree was felled on Wednesday due to decay, but the city government is spending 24 million yen ($194,000; £124,000) to make sure it can be preserved and returned to the same spot, the Asahi Shimbun website reports.

A steel rod will be inserted into the trunk, and the bark will be coated in resin, while the distinctive "dragon head" shape will be replicated using reinforced plastic, according to the report. The newly restored version is expected to be back on the seafront in January 2016.

A similar method was used to preserve the only pine tree left standing on the seafront in Rikuzentakata, where about 70,000 trees were washed away by the wave. The tree died in 2012 after salt water rotted its roots, but town officials gathered donations to pay for it to be fitted with an internal metal frame and replica branches and leaves.